The true cost of influencer culture: Americans spent $71 BILLION on social media impulse buys last year - with over half regretting their purchases

Some 39 percent of adults purchased an item on social media in the last yearOf those that made purchases, 57 percent said they regretted at least oneThose who do make impulse purchases spent an average of $754 in the year

Americans spent $71 billion in the last year on impulse buys inspired by what they saw on social media, a new survey reveals.

Some 39 percent of Americans said they made such impulse purchases in the last year.

Of those, 57 percent said they went on to regret least one of their purchases, according to Bankrate.

The urge to make rash online purchases was much more prevalent among millennials and Gen Zers – with around 60 percent of both groups saying they choose what to buy based on what they see on social media.

Millennials were bigger spenders, however, spending an average of $1,016 each since August 2022, while Gen Zers typically spent around $844.

Americans spent $71 billion in the last year on impulse buys inspired by what they saw on social media, according to a Bankrate survey that sampled more than 3,600 American adults

Americans spent $71 billion in the last year on impulse buys inspired by what they saw on social media, according to a Bankrate survey that sampled more than 3,600 American adults

More than a quarter of respondents who said they make impulse purchases inspired by what they see on social media said they spent more than $500 between August

More than a quarter of respondents who said they make impulse purchases inspired by what they see on social media said they spent more than $500 between August

The survey – carried out in August – sampled more than 3,600 American adults, 3,300 of which said they were active on at least one social media platform.

The mean amount spent by those who do make purchases based on what they see on social media was $754, but the median was $155, implying big spenders account for disproportionate expenditure.

And men who made social media-driven impulse purchases spent an average of $999, while women spent an average of $518.

Bankrate analyst Ted Rossman suggested that people who are struggling to save on account of impromptu spending should consider taking their time before finalizing purchases.

One common rule involves taking 24 hours from seeing a product before deciding to buy it.

‘For larger amounts, you might even want to hold off for a week or more,’ Rossman said. ‘Make sure to involve your spouse in the discussion as well (if you have one). We found that secret spending is the most common example of financial infidelity.’

Rossman also warned how social media scammers are increasingly taking advantage of shoppers’ tendencies towards unplanned and spur of the moment shopping online.

‘Look out for adverts on social media claiming to be “going out of business” or “flash” sales,’ he told

‘These can be phishing scams which encourage shoppers to enter their personal payment information.’

The Bankrate survey also found that social media affects how many users feel about their own finances due to the prevalence of influencers boasting luxury lifestyles.

Some 20 percent of users felt negatively about their own finances after seeing posts on social media, while 9 percent said social media has a negative effect on how they manage their own money.

Gen Zers and millennials not only admitted to posting on social media to convey a sense of wealth, but also said social media has a negative effect on how they manage their money.

‘Keep in mind that what you see on social media isn’t always realistic. That refers to your friends’ posts and perhaps rings even more true for influencers,’ said Rossman.

According to the survey, 57 percent believe that people sometimes post things on social media to appear more successful, but only 12  admitted to doing it themselves.

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