It’s the time of year when the clocks spring forward, and the days are getting longer. And according to numerous studies, it’s not just our sleeping habits which are affected by this, but our spending.
Studies reveal that people tend to shop, dine out and engage in commercial activities more frequently in after-work daylight. So, as evenings get lighter, it’s likely that your bank balance will follow suit.
According to a report by JP Morgan Chase Institute, shoppers spend 3.5% less in supermarkets, petrol stations and at retailers when the clocks go back, compared to their average spend in the summertime, or – as it’s known in the US – daylight saving time. The effects are so powerful that an international lobby group is actively campaigning for the practice of changing the clocks to be abandoned.
In Europe, where a poll revealed 84% of people were in favour of ending the practice of changing the clocks, each country will decide from winter this year onwards whether to continue the practice.
So in what ways does the changing of the clocks affect our spending habits?
Some research reveals that when we are exposed to more natural daylight we not only feel happier, we also make different decisions about spending. We tend to spend more money, and also we tend to be more open to making new choices. Retail research, for example, reveals that we are more likely to choose different flavours of regular foods such as yoghurts during the daytime than after sunset.
Shoppers are also willing to spend more money on items during daylight hours than if you shop at night – a useful tip, perhaps, could be to do your regular weekly shop after dark if you want to save money!
Increased exposure to daylight also makes us more charitable and we are more likely to offer more money for tips in the daytime. Having a set percentage for how much you tip can help you to keep your spending habits on an even keel in this arena.
It’s also a good time of year to save money on journeys to work by walking part way or parking in areas which are further from your destination or less expensive. Good for your wallet and good for your health.
Also, simply being aware of the effects can help you to plan and be more aware of keeping track of your budget as spring unfolds.
And while the downside for personal consumers is that you are likely to spend more money at this time of year, economists will be quick to point out the benefits of this increased spending: it boosts the economy, meaning more opportunities for businesses and the trickle down effects of more jobs and better pay.