Are you more apt to overspend at the mall or online? Can’t decide? While you’re thinking, I’ll go first. I am more likely to overspend in a store. Without a doubt.

I’ve gone to great lengths to wean myself from brick-and-mortar stores. I must be nuts or something, but I can stroll past a store like Restoration Hardware—not needing a single thing—and just like that have an overwhelming need for the finest Italian linens with sumptuous thread counts. Plus, an entire bedroom suite on which to display them. It’s crazy!


I feel deprived and pathetic not owning the stuff I see. I turn into a spoiled child pitching a fit if I can’t have everything I now want. Clearly, it is better for me to simply not go near anything resembling a mall.

Online shopping is a godsend. It keeps me out of the stores, and makes shopping less emotional so I can just get what I need and be done with it. I don’t feel so vulnerable and compulsive while seated at the keyboard.

It looks like I’m not like most consumers, according to a column at MSN Money. Recent findings by Forrester Research indicate that the average online shopping transaction now runs as much as 15 percent more than the average brick-and-mortar store purchase.

The research says there are five reasons that people overspend online:

You don’t have time to think. Once you have items in your cart, retailers want to move you through the checkout line before you can reconsider.

They guarantee you won’t regret it. More than 40 percent of all online shoppers say product reviews are important to them. However, 80 percent of online reviews are generally positive.

They won’t let you forget. Online retailers use your purchase information to make recommendations for new items, and remind you to get that item that they’re sure you want.

Free shipping. The lure of free shipping is an important tool in getting customers to spend more on each visit. Even if shipping only costs $4 or $5, shoppers will put extra items in their basket that cost several times that much just to qualify.

They give rewards. Most of the rewards that retailers shell out are just incentives thrown in to get you to buy more, such as a 20 percent off coupon or free upgrade to faster shipping.

I don’t doubt that online shopping can be a real budget buster, and I’m sure I’ve made my share of cyber mistakes. But adding to this equation is the time I don’t have to drive across town while burning up $4-a-gallon gas, to fight traffic in a parking lot that has one less parking space than the sum total of cars wanting one at any given time. Online shopping beats the mall for me. I believe I will stick with my answer.

Okay, your turn. Where are you more apt to overspend—online or while in the store? Share your answer here.

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