When I saw Isla Fisher’s portrayal of a hopelessly out-of-control shopaholic in the 2009 movie Confessions Of A Shopaholic, I was like, “Seriously???? Come on! No one’s that dumb!” But that was before the advent of the wondrous world of e-shopping. At that time I was just out of college, so even regular shopping trips involved saving up for a couple of months and shopping online was most definitely not an option. But since then, with the launch of several websites solely catering to the tech-savvy populace, the advent of smartphones and high-speed internet connections and the variety of payment options offered, shopping has not remained a necessary task but has transformed into a worldwide pastime. So whether it’s that new skirt you’ve been eyeing or the bag you need for your laptop, all you have to do is pick up the phone or tablet, find what you like and click, click, click, your shipment is on its way and you need not pay a rupee till you get it at your doorstep.
Don’t get me wrong. I think some aspects of online shopping are way cooler than the actual physical activity. For example, some websites actually have amazing deals on products and the biggest advantage you have as a buyer is you can comfortably browse through various options till you find the one you like best. You can compare competitor prices, check for bargains and discount coupons and get the best possible deal for yourself. Many of the online stores are able to offer these attractive discounts because they do not need to spend any money on the actual store. So, if you walk into say a Forever21 at your nearest mall, imagine the owner has to spend for the rentals, the electricity, the display and the staff of the store even before he manages to sell one tiny item.All of this is factored into the costing of the products on their shelves. Online stores however do not have any such requirements. So they can offer good prices. Then again, there is the convenience of getting things delivered home without moving an inch. These stores are open 24×7 and usually have prompt return and replace policies. Also, some offer an option of an online shopping assistant on a live chat feed to help you make a decision.
With all this happening on the online shopping front, is it surprising that so many of us now find it difficult to control ourselves. How many times have you impulsively bought something, thinking “I really, really need this right now!” and then kept it in your cupboard for months together before finally getting it out? How many times have you clicked on the ‘add to shopping cart’ button only to find yourself cringing when the order finally arrives on your doorstep?
Dr Wilona Braganza, is a Consultant Psychiatrist, with an MBBS from Grant Medical College, Mumbai, and a MD from Fr Muller Medical College, Mangalore. She has a special interest in de-addiction, and adolescent and young adult psychiatric problems such as alcohol and drug addictions, depression, anxiety, abuse, stress and marital or relationship problems.