Money and Mental Health responds to Black Friday

Responding to Black Friday, The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is highlighting research revealing the links between shopping and mental health. Released earlier in the year, the research explains both how our mental health can drive spending, and also the impact that regretted purchases and financial difficulty can have on our mental health. This can be particularly difficult during flash sales like Black Friday.

The charity found that:

  • Nearly two thirds (63%) of people who had made purchases they later regretted said they did so because of sales
  • Nearly one in ten (9%) said that they always or often regretted purchases made online
  • And it’s not as simple as just sending it back, three quarters (75%) of people said they did not return the last thing they regretted buying
  • This is a particular issue for those who are already living with mental health problems. Around half of this group said they make purchases they regret when they are alone (48%) or feeling low (52%) and nearly a third said they do it when shopping in the night (31%). These figures are all nearly double those for people without mental health problems (24%, 22% and 16% respectively).
  • The figures are all from nationally representative polling of over 2,000 people in partnership with Populus.

To help people to control their impulse shopping at night, Money and Mental Health have worked with Plexus, a social enterprise, to pilot their own online tool. The ‘Shopper Stopper’ lets users set the opening hours of online shops, enabling them to take some control over their online retail environment. Now the charity have written to the 32 largest online retailers and financial services firms, making the case for them to give customers control options too, such as:

the ability to set spending limits on online accounts or bank cards
automatically delaying transactions made at night for approval in the morning
or requiring approval from a nominated second person for particularly large transactions.

Simon Crine, Interim Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said:

“Flash sales, Black Friday ‘deals’ and short-term offers can be hard to resist at the best of times. But when we’re struggling with our mental health, evidence suggests that it’s even harder to control these impulses to spend. The promise of something to make you feel better can seem irresistible, and one-click shopping gives us little time for second thoughts – often leading to growing debt or depleting savings.

“For many people, online shopping brings huge benefits. But we think it’s time that firms made a few small changes to allow customers a little more control over their online environment. We’re calling on banks and online retailers to offer options like daily or weekly spending limits, or to let customers limit their ability to shop at night when they can find temptation harder to resist.”

Read the evaluation of the Shopper Stopper tool at

Read the full research on mental health and impulse shopping at



Helen Undy, 07827917829 or 0207 848 1448, [email protected] for all media enquiries including interviews with spokespeople. CASE STUDIES AVAILABLE.

Notes to Editors

  • The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute was set up by Martin Lewis in spring 2016, registered charity number 1166493.
  • It conducts research and develops policies for banks, lenders, regulators, the health service and government to help people with mental health problems protect themselves from financial difficulties and get out of debt.
  • Martin Lewis OBE, Money Saving Expert, is an award-winning campaigning broadcaster, newspaper columnist and author. He founded in 2003 for £100 and remains its full-time Editor-in- Chief. It is now the UK’s biggest money site, with more than 14 million monthly users. Martin has his own prime-time ITV programme – The Martin Lewis Money Show – and is resident expert on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Consumer Panel, among others.
  • Previous research by The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute revealed that, in a survey of 5,500 people with mental health problems, 93% said they spend more when unwell. The charity warns that even a short period of impulsive spending has the potential to unpick years of good financial management, burn through savings and cause a rapid buildup of problem debt.
  • All other figures in this release are drawn from a representative survey of 2,051 people conducted online by Populus on behalf of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute between 9th and 11th December 2016. Data was weighted to be nationally representative. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules; for more information
  • The Shopper Stopper is a browser plugin, developed by Plexus for the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute using insights from behavioural science. The experimental tool has just finished an eight month trial (January 2017 – September 2017). The plugin allowed users to:
    • Set the opening hours of any online shops
    • Write a personal message to themselves to appear when they try to access a shop outside of these opening hours, reminding themselves why they wanted to block the store in the first place
    • Choose an alternative activity that is suggested to them on the blocker that appears when trying to access a closed store
    • Give a ‘virtual spare set of keys’ to a friend who can unlock closed shops in an emergency
    • The Shopper Stopper also contains signposting information for those struggling with their mental health or worrying about finances.