New research suggests that the way companies market impulse buys needs to be re-thought. "As consumers progress through the shopping trip, or browsing a website, and as they go through more and more choices, they are likely to behave less and less impulsively," says Paul Dholakia, a management professor at Rice University. Here's the breakdown.

Time to Shop
Retailers have long thought that shoppers are less impulsive when they enter a store, and become more impulsive the longer they shop.

Early Browsing
In one experiment, researchers asked two groups of consumers to weigh various impulse buys. Members of Group A were offered an alluring product, like a great sweater, and asked to rate their interest.

Having Shopped for a While
Group B was offered the sweater and, later, another impulse buy. In this test, 73 percent were less interested in that second item, whether or not they liked the sweater initially.

Approaching Checkout
Though a consumer's "natural tendency to behave impulsively has dwindled" as she gets ready to pay, a retailer can rekindle a shopper's interest through clever signage and other promotions.

Last Chance to Buy Something
One caveat: The loss of self-control is different from impulse buying, Dholakia says. So wavering dieters, and not the occasional snacker, would buy candy at the supermarket checkout.