New research reveals that despite legislation created to stop the problem, around half of buyers suspected so-called “scalper” and “grinch” bots were snapping up in-demand goods before they could get them, forcing many to either pay inflated prices or use bots themselves in desperation. 

The report, How are Bots Changing Buyer Behavior?, released by Netaceasurveyed more than a thousand people across the U.S. who regularly buy popular goods and services online. It reveals 47% of respondents believe bots have stopped them getting in-demand goods and services online. Many of those affected (58%) were trying to buy tickets for a live event, but buyers of fashion items (35%), consumer goods (39%) and travel (20%) also suspected high levels of interference.

As a result, some people are reacting by making bots part of their shopping toolkit — with 17% admitting they resorted to using one in the last year. Scalper usage is most common amongst Gen Z and millennial consumers, with 24% and 27% respectively admitting to using one over the last 12 months. Even 5% of over 65s say they use a bot to get what they want online.  

Bot-induced scarcity is also forcing many to pay significant markups for everyday items. Despite already being far worse off due to inflation, people admitted they are still willing to pay scalpers, on average, 13% more, with medicine (17%) and event tickets (14%) seeing the highest price increases. The report notes this pales in comparison to the markups on high-demand items such as the Playstation 5 (19%) and Yeezy sneakers (168%). By comparison, U.S. inflation was, at its peak in June 2022, only 9.1%.

Despite these inflated prices, 57% still bought products on secondary markets even though more than 90% feared being sold fakes or having their data compromised