Impulse shopping confined to the high street, for now

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Reaching for the credit card on impulse is rare amongst online shoppers, according to a study released March 18 by MasterCard Worldwide.

Eighty-four percent of respondents to the survey, conducted in 14 countries, said that they plan ahead when buying online. Consumers in Australia, Japan and New Zealand were the most likely to do their research, with nine out of ten consumers saying that they planned ahead before buying online. Eighty-seven percent of South Africans said that they liked to plan and research their online purchases in advance.

MasterCard says that low prices or discounts, unique products and advertisements were the most likely things to make us open our wallets.

"A number of online shoppers will also make an impulse buying decision if they find a product online that will be available or delivered quicker than going into a physical shop, which shows that instant gratification plays an important role in any buying decision," said MasterCard's Dougie Henderson.

In India, home appliances and CDs or DVDs were the most likely products to trigger an impulse purchase online. Chinese consumers, however, were most likely to impulse buy books/art or groceries, whilst Thai consumers preferred to splash out on ladies' clothing/accessories without planning ahead.

The top reasons that shoppers find themselves on a website to begin with are to check the latest information on products (79 percent), checking promotional deals (62 percent) and the intention to make a booking/purchase (60 percent).

MasterCard surveyed 8000 respondents across 14 markets to compile the survey, the third annual report of its kind.