Study: Poor shoppers least likely to find deals

Posted at 2:48 PM, Dec 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 14:48:43-05

Talk about a double whammy-- the poorest shoppers are those least likely to find the best deals, according to a recent study by Paribus.

“Our findings suggest that poor people are getting ripped off doing their holiday shopping, and all year long,” said Mercer Cook, an analyst with Paribus.

Paribus is an app launched in May that tracks retailers’ best price guarantee policies and gets users a refund when prices drop.

Analysts looked at more than 1.4 million purchases made in the last year, then determined what percentage of purchased items later went on sale.

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Data showed that shoppers living on the coasts, where incomes tend to be higher, are better at ferreting out the best deals.

Cost of living could be one reason, analysts said-- it's expensive to live along the coasts, so perhaps those consumers are more motivated to look for deals. 

Or it could be a lack of access to technology, meaning lower-income shoppers don’t shop online as much, where deals tend to be more plentiful, Cook said.

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Also, shoppers in urban areas have a lot of stores to choose from, compared to those in less affluent rural areas, where there might only be one store.

Cook said analysts have found that so-called essential items, like toilet paper, actually see the most drastic price fluctuations.

“Essentials are the items that people are most likely to overpay for,” he said.  

Speaking of those essentials, Paribus found that’s what poorer shoppers are buying this holiday season, rather than the pricier electronics that more affluent consumers are purchasing.

They’re also buying “old school” items this Christmas, such as toys and board games, which tend to be cheaper, Cook said.

Poor shoppers are about half as likely as wealthier shoppers to purchase technology, and about 10 times more likely to buy toys or board games, according to Paribus data. 

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