More than ever this year people took to the Internet to do their holiday shopping. Unprecedented billions were spent and records were set. They gobbled up deals on Cyber Monday, they embraced box store-bilking apps, enjoyed free shipping. People went cuckoo for their online shopping puffs and it was good.
One thing that hasn’t made sense until now is why exactly this year set stage for a year of pocket-burning sales records. People have always purchased more whenever there are sales, free shipping is nothing new, and honestly that Amazon Price Check app just streamlined what people were already doing on their own. So what was different about this year, especially since the United States is supposedly still recessed/depressed, that made people spend more money than ever before?
The answer is two-fold. First, more and more people are using the Internet for fun. Buying things – whether for yourself or as gifts for other people – is fun. Fun Internets + fun shopping = good times. And when people are having good times, they’re probably more likely to worry less about spending a little extra money. Plus, shopping online is so ridiculously easy that there should be an equivalent to Google Mail Googles sometimes just to double-check some of those questionable purchases people may be making.
The second part regards the amount of leisure and free time that online shopping offers consumers. It obviates so much of the stress incurred from shopping for Christmas gifts that the practice of online shopping might as well be a yoga monastery when compared to the infernal struggles of shopping in box stores during the holidays. In other words, it’s nice to have some free time and peace of mind. Some people, as you can imagine, may even be given to taking advantage of this newfound free time by enjoying some festive spirits. In fact, that’s exactly what happens. And as inhibitions are bound to ebb and vanish when one enjoys a strong drink, so go the inhibitions that say, “Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t buy that just yet.” Just as good times make it a little easier to justify added expenses, so then does a mind choose to ignore those same expense once it is dampened with alcohol. In fact, people can’t race to the bottom of a glass and then click the check-out button fast enough. Online shopping is already tempting enough when a person is completely in charge of their mental faculties, so dousing that decision-making lobe of your brain with a steady splash of alcohol can only increase the ease of buying things from websites. The New York Times picked up the scent of these boozy shoppers:
“Post-bar, inhibitions can be impacted, and that can cause shopping, and hopefully healthy impulse buying,” said Andy Page, the president of Gilt Groupe, an online retailer that is adding more sales starting at 9 p.m. to respond to high traffic then — perhaps some of it by shoppers under the influence.
And in case you winced when you read that certain online retailers are catering (i.e., taking advantage) of inebriated online shoppers, you shouldn’t. These retailers know exactly what they’re doing.
On eBay, the busiest time of day is from 6:30 to 10:30 in each time zone. Asked if drinking might be a factor, Steve Yankovich, vice president for mobile for eBay, said, “Absolutely.” He added: “I mean, if you think about what most people do when they get home from work in the evening, it’s decompression time. The consumer’s in a good mood.”
It feels predatory that online retailers would customize their sales to entrap drunk potential shoppers but, at the same time, not surprising at all. I’m just glad that most of my purchases made from within a cloud of alcohol haziness are usually pizzas and then other pizzas. Do you think online retailers should be tailoring some sales to target people who might be potentially shopping while under the influence? Or is it kind of a sleazy practice (really, though, what isn’t these days)? Let us know in your comments below.