Ever found yourself in the grocery store, staring at the shelves, wondering what it is you came in to buy? Don’t worry, it happens to all of us at one point or another.
Then again, if you’re looking at your phone while you shop, it might be happening more often than not.
A new study by the Fairfield University in Connecticut has found that shoppers using their smartphone in stores are actually distracting themselves. They don’t mean referring to your phone for a grocery list of course. Rather, if you’re glancing at your phone to do something else while you should be shopping, odds are you’ll forget what you need and buy what you don’t.
The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, surveyed 2,520 shoppers as they left a supermarket. The researchers asked which of them were using their phone while shopping, and found that they bought on average 9 percent more items than they had planned to.
There was a followup experiment, where the team had a 231 participants watch a POV video of a shopper. The person in the video placed nine items in their cart as they walked around the store, but then picked up and put down several others.
Some of the participants watched the whole video with no distractions. Others were made to listen to an unrelated phone conversation while that was going on, and still others constantly received push notifications in the corner of the screen.
At the end of the experiment, the people that weren’t distracted did a better job of remembering which items from a list of 15 actually made it into the cart at the end. That may seem obvious to you, but that sort of distraction also works when you’re the person shopping.
“Mobile phones are quickly becoming the principal distractor for many consumers and they offer a unique form of interruption,” lead researcher Michael Sciandra said in a press release. “Our findings may influence consumers’ attitudes towards mobile phone use while shopping and persuade them to reflect on how these devices impact our lives, both positively and negatively.”
So the next time you get home and realise you forgot the masala you needed, but instead picked up a packet of chocolate biscuits, you know your phone fidgeting is to blame.