Drunken Shopping Is A Multibillion-Dollar Industry. Here Are Some Weird Things Seattle Residents Bought While Inebriated

By Christine Clarridge

The Seattle Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) According to a new survey, the most common purchases made while inebriated are clothing and shoes, followed by movies and games.

Seattle 

The drinks were flowing freely when Charlie Woodman won a bar trivia contest last summer, whiskey, probably, since that's what he orders when others are buying, and he was in high spirits by the time he made it back to the Fremont residence he shares with a roommate.

Watching YouTube, he saw something that awed him: a person playing "Bohemian Rhapsody" on a tiny Japanese synthesizer called an Otamatone.

"That is amazing," he said to himself. "You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to buy that."

And he did. For 30 bucks.

One week later, a box arrived with a "small, almost entirely useless, niche synthesizer that looks like a singing-note Muppet." To work it, he said, you squeeze the mouth-like bulb at the bottom and the device emits a single synthesized note.

The 29-year-old used to tease his roommate for spending a lot of money on synthesizers. Not anymore. When tempted now, he looks at his desk, where the "worst one in the world sits stoutly reminding me not to make similar mistakes."

In Washington, residents are estimated to spend an average of $400-$499 annually during drunk shopping sprees, according to statistics portal Statista. And we're not alone. That dollar figure is right in line with the national average of about $450 per year.

Much as it dominates the sober-shopping world, Amazon is the preferred platform for buzzed buyers as well, used by a whopping 85 percent of them.

The runners-up are eBay, with 21 percent of the tipsy market share, and Etsy with 12 percent, according to Statista. The most common purchases made while inebriated are clothing and shoes, followed by movies and games.

The stats come from a survey of 2,174 people, conducted in March by The Hustle. The survey showed that, overall, nearly 80 percent of respondents admitted to making at least one drunken purchase in their lifetime, contributing to what is estimated to be a $45 billion market.

The average respondent was 36 years old and had an income of $92,000 (more than twice the national average), according to The Hustle, and respondents were slightly more likely to be men than women.

Stephanie Soule, 24, of Bothell, was channeling the "treat yourself" state of mind from the show "Parks and Recreation" while when she drunkenly ordered not just honey, but an entire honeycomb.

"My curiosity is piqued when inebriated," she said. "I think, 'Let's do it!'"

But in reality, "It was not what I expected. You had to chew all the wax off."

And although Seattle resident Anne Thayer's impairment was caused not by alcohol but by a sleeping medication, she understands the bewilderment of an unexpected package.

Six years ago, Thayer took an Ambien one night and ended up buying 32 bags of roasted-chicken-flavored potato chips on Amazon.

"I had no recollection of the purchase, so imagine my surprise when a giant box of potato chips arrived at my house," she said in an email. "The chips were mediocre. I don't take Ambien anymore."

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