Do you want a quick espresso before you go shopping? Perhaps you shouldn’t do that. A study found that consuming coffee encourages us to make unneeded impulse purchases.

drink coffee spend more money
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio / pexels

Coffee drinkers spend more money

Who hasn’t heard the old phrase: Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach? Our grandparents and parents were certain that if we went shopping while we were already full, we would buy more. Nevertheless, an international research team discovered that another habit, drinking coffee – specifically, the caffeine it contains – is more likely to urge us to buy more.

Study: Relationship between consumer behavior and coffee consumption

For their study, the researchers from France, Spain and the USA set up a drinks stand in several shops where they offered shoppers normal espresso, decaffeinated coffee and water. In a second experimental setup, the scientists invited the participants to a café for a (hot) drink. In total, more than 300 people took part.

The result of the study: Anyone who had a drink with caffeine before going shopping spent more money afterwards. But that was not all, because among the products that ended up in the shopping cart were more “hedonistic” things, i.e. those that are more for entertainment and are not absolutely necessary.

However, this effect was lower in people who consume caffeine regularly, i.e. who drink more than two cups of coffee per day. Because of this, they have a higher caffeine tolerance, so their buying behavior didn’t seem to be influenced too much by the pre-shopping espresso.

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Better not to drink coffee before shopping

“Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that releases dopamine in the brain,” said Dipayan Biwas, the study’s lead author and marketing researcher. It has a stimulating effect on the body and mind and can thus promote impulsivity and reduce self-control. “Therefore, caffeine consumption apparently leads to increased buying impulsivity, which is reflected in more purchases and higher spending.”

So if you don’t want to spend too much money and want to avoid impulse purchases, it’s better not to drink coffee or (black) tea before your next shopping spree – or increase your own caffeine tolerance.

Sources used:,, Journal of Marketing

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