Is the pandemic prompting you to spend cash on online shopping? Buyers who are experiencing financial problems may find themselves binge-spending on products made possible by “buy now, pay later” promos, explained Samantha Turnbull of ABC Life, a website that helps readers stay on top of the things that matter to them such as food, work, and more.
Melissa Gulbin, a communications manager worker from Lismore in northern New South Wales, Australia, has found herself spending more time than usual hunting for bargains online. So far, she has bought a vintage sewing pattern for men’s overalls, a German board game, a loom, and a skateboard that is on the way. Gulbin experienced buyer’s remorse over her German board game, but she is reducing her online shopping spending and trying not to be too hard on herself.
Compulsive Buying Behavior and Online Shopping Addiction Among Health Science Teachers in Punjab, India (2019)
Mandeep Kaur, Anil Kumar, and Dr. SK. Maheshwari of journal portal Research Gate said that the study was done in 22 colleges related to health sciences in Punjab. The participants were 200 health science teachers working in selected colleges. 90% of the participants were working in private jobs and in nursing sciences and earning between 10,000 to 50,000 RS ($131-$657).
31.5% of health science teachers said they were unable to resist sales, unlike 68.5% of those who could resist decided to save instead of buying something. Interestingly, 21.5% said they continue to shop or spend despite having debts compared to 78.5% who said otherwise. 37% still over-shopped or overspend again after telling themselves that this is their last time. 63% said they did not over-shop or overspend again.
Regarding the frequency of their online shopping behavior, 23% visited online shopping sites once a day, 44% checked them once a month, 20.5% said they check online shopping websites once every six months, and 12.5% said more than once every six months. When asked about the respondents’ monthly expenditure, 30.5% said they spent less than 500 RS ($6.57), 34% said they spend between 500-1,000 RS ($6.57-$13.15), 24% said their monthly expenditure was between 1,000-1,500 RS ($13.15-$19.72), and 11.5% admitted they spent over 2,000 RS ($26.30).
Regarding the products they prefer to purchase online, 69.5% said they bought men/women’s fashion (versus 30.5% who said no), 17% bought mobiles and electronics (versus 83%), 15% said they bought home and living products (versus 85%), and 21% said they preferred buying their daily needs online (versus 79%). Regarding their reasons for choosing online shopping, 22% preferred to shop online due to the various mode of payment available to shoppers, 46% cited the wide variety of products, 19% said lower prices, 30.5% said online shopping has an easy buying process, and 29.5% mentioned more discounts when online shopping.
The authors found that 32.5% were online shopping for less than a year, 36% were shopping online for one to two years, and 23.5% were doing so for three to four years. Only 8% of respondents said they have been shopping online for over five years. The study revealed that 68.5% (score <42.2) of respondents had low compulsive buying behavior, while 31.5% (score > 42.2) had high compulsive buying behavior. The scores were determined using the compulsive buying scale.
Health professionals should be taught about the obsession, including the signs and symptoms of compulsive buying behavior, the authors said. Conferences and workshops should be conducted by faculty members to help teachers become more aware of the consequences of compulsive buying behavior.
When Should I Be Worried About Online Shopping?
Josette Freeman, the national program coordinator with SMART Recovery, noted that shopping is a common coping mechanism for anxiety. She added, “If you suffer from anxiety, this [the coronavirus pandemic] is going to exacerbate it." Most people need some order in their lives. However, since structure has been out of the picture, no one knows what will happen in the future. For many individuals, that’s very unsettling. According to Freeman, shopping is a short-term, self-soothing pleasure that can have long-term consequences when you have to pay for these products.
“If it starts to become more of a regular thing — more time, more energy, spending more than you wanted to — you want to keep an eye on that,” reminded Terrence Shulman, founder and director of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding, as quoted by Lorie Konish of CNBC, a news and financial news platform.
3 Ways to Control Your Impulse to Shop
1. Create a Budget
If you want to curb your online shopping impulsive or want to shop more mindfully, it is recommended to create a budget and know the difference between your wants and your needs, said Kylie Holford, deputy chair of the Financial Counsellors Association of NSW. It is also recommended to figure out what surplus money you have and how much you can actually afford to spend.
Assess how much you need an item before purchasing it. For example, if you are tempted to buy $300 black boots, and you already own several of them, then it is probably unnecessary, stated April Lane Benson, a psychologist specializing in compulsive buying disorder.
2. Know Your Triggers and Plan Ahead
It is worth knowing your motivations and triggers if you have a history of excessive shopping, suggested Freeman. “Look at your triggers, why are you reacting the way you do, and think about the consequences," she said. Let’s say that you had a bad day, your kids are yelling, or you think you deserve to shop online as a reward. This might cause you to spend a huge amount of money on an item you don’t really need. You have to find more enjoyable alternatives to online shopping such as watching your favorite TV show or anything that is manageable and doable, Freeman said.
3. Watch Out for “Buy Now, Pay Later” Promos and Loans
If you have lost income or are facing job insecurity during the pandemic, Holder recommended staying away from “buy now, pay later” deals and loan schemes as these will only compel you to shop more. She warned, “There might be no interest, but there are fees and charges if you don't pay back in due time."
Think before adding an item to your cart. Do you really need it? Or are you buying it to soothe your bad mood? During these trying times, buyers—especially those with a history of excessive shopping—should know their triggers and create a budget to plan their purchases.