When was the last time you bought something online? Let’s face it—online shopping sure is convenient. There’s no waiting in line, no paying for gas, and no lugging your purchases from one store to the next. But once you’re armed with the facts about online shopping, you’ll understand that without caution, it can be pretty damaging to your wallet, your mental health, and the environment!
It may surprise you just how much impact your shopping habits have. So, let's dive into some key facts about shopping to see how it affects you and the environment!
10 Shocking facts about online shopping
Here are 10 top facts about shopping that can help you stay mindful when you are making purchases!
1. Online shopping can be addictive
5.8-8% of the population suffers from a shopping addiction. This type of addiction is also known as compulsive shopping, oniomania, or pathological buying. But whatever name it goes by, the symptoms are the same.
Simply said, it's an addiction to the act of buying, to the point where there are harmful consequences for the addict and their loved ones.
People most at risk of online shopping addiction are those who like the instant gratification of being one click away from a purchase. Others are people who want to avoid the social interaction of in-store shopping.
2. A high percentage of clothing purchases go to landfills
What do you like to spend your money on when you shop online? If you’re anything like 54% of US shoppers, you’ll probably buy clothes over the internet. Why? Buying clothes online is convenient, returns are easy, and you don’t have to worry about horrendous store mirrors!
But most people who innocently shop for clothes online aren’t aware of vital environmental facts about online shopping. And their love of the latest fashion is punishing the planet!
Americans are throwing away more clothes than ever before - with the volume of clothing waste jumping from 7 million to 14 million tons over the past 20 years.
3. Online shoppers are frequently scammed
Unfortunately, many people have learned this the hard way over the years as cybercriminals have ramped up their efforts to defraud consumers of their hard-earned cash.
Some 78.8% of online consumers have been recent victims of scams. Increased spending online is the most likely cause of the boost in cyber fraud.
These cybersecurity facts about online shopping tell us the more you shop over the internet, the more likely you are to encounter this type of crime.
4. Shipping and returning online purchases are bad for the environment
Ever told yourself online shopping is great for the environment because you don’t get into your car and drive to the store? Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The growth in online shopping is having a detrimental impact on the planet. Some 37% of the world’s GHG emissions are due to shipping and returning products. But what does the future look like?
How about delivery vehicles on our roads increasing 36% by 2030, contributing to a 6 million ton increase in CO2 emissions?
As the appetite for same-day and next-day delivery continues, many of these delivery vehicles are going out half-full and burdening the environment further.
5. Online shopping can lead to debt
Buy now pay later plans are becoming more popular, especially with younger shoppers. These plans give you the gratification of committing to purchases today, without the funds to afford the bill.
You'll pay the debt back gradually in a series of small installments. And so long as you don't miss a payment there won't be any fees or interest.
A little flexibility may not seem harmful. But, unfortunately, it’s also a fast track toward unmanageable debt.
A recent Cardify survey of 6,500 adults found 48% would spend 10-20% more using buy now pay later than they would with credit cards.
6. Online shopping can leads to buyers’ remorse
74% of US adults feel guilty after shopping online, which is a clear sign that this style of purchasing isn’t working for them. Of these, 39% regretted the purchase as they felt the item was less valuable than expected and 34% didn't use the item as frequently as hoped.
A further 32% thought they had spent too much money. Essentially, a majority of online shoppers feel they’re wasting their money.
7. Online shopping under the influence is not a great idea
Ever shopped online with a glass of wine in your hand? It’s an easy habit to fall into when you’re unwinding in the evenings. But beware of the purchases you make when you’re slightly sozzled.
Research suggests that 60% of people admit to shopping online when drunk, and 83% admit to buying something “silly or frivolous.”
We all know that drunk driving and drunk dialing aren't smart, so now you have drunk shopping to add to the list too!
8. Online returned goods go straight to landfill
Have you ever ordered a few sizes of a dress or shoes to be shipped to your home? You’ll choose the best fit, return the unwanted purchases for free and get a refund on the difference. There’s no harm, right? Wrong!
One of the most shocking facts about online shopping is many brand-new returned items don’t make it back to the store to find a new home. Instead, these shiny items are dumped in landfills on an enormous scale.
In fact, some 5 billion pounds of brand-new returns waste goes straight to landfills each year. Let’s be clear – these aren’t always defective products.
Often, it’s just cheaper for companies to send returns directly to landfills rather than invest in the technology and logistics to transport and process the goods.
9. Online subscriptions encourage extra buying
The subscription industry has been booming, with services like Amazon Prime attracting 148.6 million members in the US alone. This is an increase of 49.05% since 2017, highlighting how dependent we’re becoming on home deliveries.
Along with the environmental impact of this type of service, online subscription services also encourage people to spend money.
Priced at $139 per year, or $14.99 per month, many subscribers develop a bang-for-your-buck mentality and place plenty of orders with Amazon, so they don’t waste money on their subscription.
Josh Lowitz, a partner at Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, explains, “You don’t want to be that foolish person who is paying money for the membership you’re not using. And that decision to get your money’s worth then drives significantly more shopping.”
10. Online shopping is a cause of financial infidelity
Financial infidelity happens when one or both partners keep secrets from the other about their finances. Unfortunately, this is a common problem in relationships and can sometimes be a deal-breaker when a partner finds out.
1 in 3 couples in the US deals with financial infidelity, with 76% of these believing the experience negatively impacted their relationship and 10% ending in divorce.
While there are many causes of financial infidelity, including gambling and business debts, online shopping can also be a contributing factor, particularly where compulsive buying is involved.
If you notice boxes piling up in the hallway, or your partner being secretive about the frequent deliveries they’re receiving, these are key signs your other half may have something to hide.
Use these facts about online shopping to stick to your financial goals
We totally get it's tricky to wean yourself away from online shopping. It's super tempting and often more convenient than hauling yourself down the mall to find a bargain.
But if you feel like online shopping is derailing you from your financial goals, check out these five tips to stay right on track.
1. Know your triggers
If you know online shopping is becoming a problem for you, hit pause on your browsing and take a moment to assess how and when you shop. Do you tend to open your shopping apps when you’re bored, lonely, angry, etc?
2. Unsubscribe from promotional emails
Is your inbox flooded with offers from brands for upgrades, 2-for-1 deals, and the chance of a $100 gift voucher if you buy today? If you’re attracted to these offers, the best thing to do is unsubscribe from as many as you can. Go through your inbox today and start unsubscribing.
Top tip: Head back to any messages you received around Black Friday or the New Year and unsubscribe from these newsletters and promo emails all in one go.
3. Use airplane mode on your devices
If there’s a time of day when you know you’re more likely to shop, head to your phone, tablet, or desktop and choose Airplane or Flight mode. This will disconnect you from your home Wi-Fi and prevent you from innocently browsing at your favorite online stores.
Airplane mode is the perfect device setting if your online shopping habit distracts you from working at home or connecting with your family.
4. Take a break from social media
Do you follow social media influencers who constantly post about the latest and greatest product you have to have?
Remember, brand promotion is exactly how they make their money! But that doesn’t mean you have to follow them. Start unfollowing anyone who is sending temptation your way. Or if you prefer, take a break from using social media altogether. This can help you take the approach of slow shopping.
5. Don’t let your credit cards auto-fill on websites
Do your favorite shopping websites, and apps already have your credit card details on file? You might have entered them to save time during the checkout process, but that’s precisely what you don’t want to happen.
For a more mindful purchasing experience, the act of entering your credit or debit card details will slow down your journey and allow you to check and double-check whether this purchase is worth your cash.
Leverage these facts about online shopping to be more mindful of your purchases!
We all know that online shopping can quickly get out of hand. So, if you’re heading for a shopping binge, remind yourself of these facts about shopping to give you perspective.
Hit your internal pause button, reflect on whether you really need these purchases, and consider how to reroute your cash to meet your financial goals.