In-Store Spending Dynamics: How Budgets Invert Relative-Spending Patterns

Daniel Sheehan, Koert Van Ittersum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The authors conduct four controlled lab experiments and one field study in a brick-and-mortar grocery store to demonstrate that relative spending - the price of the purchased item relative to the mean price of the product category - evolves nonlinearly and distinctly for budget and nonbudget shoppers. While the relative spending of budget shoppers evolves in a concave manner, the relative spending of nonbudget shoppers evolves inversely in a convex manner. Thus, budget (nonbudget) shoppers spend relatively more (less) in the middle than at the beginning and toward the end of their shopping trip. Mediation analyses confirm that the pain of paying experienced while shopping drives price salience, which then drives relative spending. Moreover, manipulating shoppers' pain of paying, by altering the opportunity costs associated with their spending or drawing shoppers' attention to their spending via real-time spending feedback, is shown to influence these spending patterns. The research offers theoretical contributions to the in-store decision-making, budgeting, and pain-of-paying literature and has important implications for marketing and promotion strategies in retail and mobile technology environments, as it suggests when a shopper may be more sensitive to price-related factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberucx125
Pages (from-to)49-67
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • budgets
  • in-store decision-making
  • pain of paying
  • price salience
  • shopper marketing
  • spending
  • spending feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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