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Using a mobile phone while shopping increases bills by 41 per cent, University of Bath study finds

People spend more when shopping if they use their mobile phones, according to the study. Credit: PA

Using a mobile phone on a trip to the supermarket pushes up shopping bills by nearly 50 per cent, a study has found.

The research, by the University of Bath, found shoppers move round stores at a slower pace when they use their phones to keep up with messages, social media or calls.

They also wander along the aisles and come across extra products with each additional second in the supermarket - which equates to an extra 40p when it comes to the checkout.

Do you browse social media while shopping? Credit: PA

Shoppers in one study added 45 per cent more items to their basket while using a phone, while participants in a second study added 58 per cent more.

This is believed to be because using a phone distracts people from their planned shopping lists and so-called ‘autopilot shop’, where consumers take a routine path to their regular items.

Retailers have tended to worry that when shoppers use their mobiles, it’s distracting them from spending money, so we were amazed to find completely the reverse effect.

The findings were very clear - the more time you spend on your phone, the more money you’ll part with.

So, if you’re trying to budget, leave your phone in your pocket. It’s not the phone itself that causes more purchases, but it’s impact on our focus.

On the plus side, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing for shoppers. Taking a slower and more scenic journey can remind you of products you’d forgotten you needed.

– Dr Carl-Philip Ahlbom, of the University of Bath's School of Management