Seasonal Affected Disorder impacts approximately 2 million people in the UK every year. It hits hard during the coldest months of the year, with symptoms that include:
– Sleep problems
– Feeling down and unsociable
Dr. Hana Patel is a Mental Health Coach and GP. She says symptoms such as low mood, low libido and tiredness can often result in eating and sleeping more than normal. It can also influence our purchasing habits.
‘If we experience SAD some symptoms more than others,’ Patel explains, ‘we may be more likely to buy high calorie and energy dense foods in response to this.’
Seasonal Affected Disorder spans across the winter and often coincides with major retail opportunities such as the holidays and annual sales. So how can merchants be mindful of SAD’s impact on their customers – and what kind of purchases are truly beneficial?
How does SAD affect consumer spending?
1. Impulse Buying
Retailers need to be mindful of impulse purchases which might land consumers in hardship.
Alex Williams is CFO at Findthisbest. ‘People suffering with SAD can literally spend the entire day in their beds,’ He explains, ‘which aggravates a sense of sadness. Shopping creates a feeling of well-being amongst people. People make impulsive buying decisions on e-commerce websites such as Amazon to feel happy.’
2. Decreased Spending
Mladen Maksic, CEO/Founder at Play Media, says that the opposite can also be the case.
‘People who suffer from this disorder often have a lower income than those without the disorder,’ Maksic states, ‘and they are more likely to spend their money on necessities such as food and clothing. There is also some suggestion that people with SAD are more likely to delay big purchases or financial decisions until later in the year.’
3. Uptake in Borrowing
SAD rears its head in the colder months, when the pressure is on to spend on events like Christmas and Diwali, as well as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the January sales.
Maksic notes that consumers impacted by SAD ‘are also more likely to borrow money or use credit cards to pay for expenses.’ This is especially relevant in the current cost of living crisis, where retail therapy comes at a higher price than it normally would.
It’s important for merchants to choose credit providers who practice ethical lending, to prevent customers who might be suffering from SAD from falling into financial hardship as a result of overspending.
What are some useful purchases to combat SAD?
– CBT or coaching sessions can help manage SAD symptoms, such as guilt from a lack of motivation, overeating or lack of desire to socialise with loved one. Subscriptions to apps such as Calm or Headspace are also a cost-effective way of temporarily getting help with SAD symptoms.
– Exercise equipment that encourages you to go out in the daylight when the sun is out can be helpful – for example, bikes, scooters, ankle weights or step counters.
– Dawn-simulating alarm clocks expose sleepers to a slowly increasing intensity of light for 30 minutes or more before waking up, and gradually get brighter. They help with winter morning routines, and some can also be used at bedtime, where it is dimmed from 100% brightness to 0% in 30 minutes.
– Wellbeing pod diffusers are an excellent product for people suffering from SAD. The essential oils added to them have a calming aroma that encourages relaxation and helps boosts your mood.
– Vitamin L lights emit strong yet pleasant light, which helps promote one’s sleep, inevitably leading to improved mental and physical health.
Ultimately, SAD can influence consumer spending habits differently, depending on the individual. Understanding how it affects your customers, as well as what purchases might be useful, will help you support them in spending responsibly during the colder months.
To find out more about how DivideBuy helps retailers to provide ethical finance options to their customers, book a fifteen-minute demo now.