We’ve all been there: You walk into a store with the mindset that you are going to overhaul your wardrobe or find the perfect dress to wear out that night, and then find yourself walking out empty-handed. New research sheds light on one reason why that might happen — and it actually has to do with what’s in your other hand while you shop.
Multitasking, such as perusing your phone, while shopping can have a negative impact on your success, whether you know exactly what you need and are ready to purchase, or are just browsing, according to research published in the Journal of Retailing.
The study authors set up three scenarios in which participants had a specific shopping goal but were doing something else as the same time, such as listening to a voicemail. They found that more-determined shoppers were minimally affected by multitasking, while contemplative shoppers suffered more.
The determined shoppers were referred to as “how” shoppers, and the pondering as “why” shoppers.
“Roughly stated, individuals in ‘how’ mindsets are ready to act, whereas individuals in ‘why’ mindsets are still contemplating,” study author A. Selin Atalay explained to Yahoo Style.
“This would apply to any shopping situation where the person who is shopping has a specific task to accomplish (i.e., buy a cocktail dress that costs less than $300),” Atalay said. “What our paper shows is that multitasking in a ‘why’ mindset is detrimental to successfully carrying out the specific shopping task due to high levels of task-induced stress.”
This means if you walk into a store knowing exactly what you want and that you are definitely going to get it, texting while shopping or browsing for online deals won’t affect your performance that much, but it still can. If you are not sure what you want, however, you should put down the phone and pay attention to what’s on the racks. Multitasking invites outside stress, and the more stressed you are, the less focused and successful you will be in the store.
Distracted shopping can also hurt your wallet in the end: The study found that using your phone while in a store can cause you to make hasty decisions, such as purchasing a shirt without trying it on or splurging on a bag you really don’t have the money for.