Online Shopping and Its Pitfalls

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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43 replies
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  1. Cheryl Designs
    Cheryl Designs says:

    I am not overspending ANYWHERE 🙂 I am on a tight budget and I LOVE IT 🙂 I have been shopping online because my small area of Ohio doesn’t stock things I NEED. If the stores DO stock the items, they can cost 3 or 4 times the cost of the same item online 🙁 I TRY to buy locally. I am a small business and I do my best to support other small, local businesses. I simply cannot afford to pay 3 to 4 times the cost of an item just to buy it locally. I also got tired of spending the TIME and GAS money to shop locally and need to order online anyway 🙁 I search online, do alittle comparing and read reviews…. find the item I need and ORDER IT. DONE 🙂

  2. roxy
    roxy says:

    Living in a Rural area doesn’t give a lot of product options and often not what I want at all. So that leaves traveling to another town or going on line. Also shipping is often as expensive as the item I want. When the item is something I can’t evaluate I read the negative responses. I think they are often more useful as the positive ones often give no information.

  3. Patricia Hackenschmidt
    Patricia Hackenschmidt says:

    brick and mortar. with online, I usually leave an item in an open tab and think about it for a few days when it’s something I don’t really need. Brick and Mortar – like you, I buy impulsively.

  4. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    I live in a rural home. Shopping online is convenient and I am learning to enjoy the convenience. I have mostly used it for books. We live hours away from book stores. There is a wait, but usually not a long one. And then there are e-books which are so quick to access! I like that I have time to think about my purchases. Delivery is nice and convenient when giving gifts. Travel is a big expense for those of us who live miles from stores, so shipping is still reasonable. But I don’t much use it for clothing. I am leery of sizing problems.

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