I hope your Halloween weekend was eventful, fulfilled, and ended in a candy induced frenzy. And speaking of frenzies, Black Friday is only a few weeks away! As the end of the year creeps closer and closer, I we find ourselves with the one thing that we just can’t get enough of, and that is possibilities. In fact, there are so many possibilities during this season that most of the time, we don’t know what to do with them. While these possibilities aren’t only limited to what we can buy at stores, it does seem that this is where a large portion of our expanded choices stem from. With sales going up faster than holiday decorations, we find ourselves browsing through stuff that we normally wouldn’t and begin impulse buying at a ridiculous rate. Why? “Because it was on sale, duh!”
And here we come to one of the major dangers of shopping. Sales are obviously ways for stores to draw in and attract customers and for most shoppers, it may seem that there is zero harm in buying something that is marked down and that mentality stays with us throughout the day until we find that we’ve spent so much more money than we normally would have. Now of course, you have to ask yourself if this is even a real problem at all. For some people, going on a shopping spree and giving the wallet a workout isn’t that big of a deal. As for me however, I get a severe case of buyers remorse whenever I spend too much money. That is not to say that I regret getting new stuff, rather, I regret losing money and as a result, tend to curb my shopping habits.
As far as finding a practical cure for these “sale fevers” of the holiday season, the most effective solution is the preventative measure of self-control. However, if it were that easy, then marketers would have done away with the idea of “sales” a long time ago. But is there another way to shop without getting sucked into the myriad of holiday sales? Probably not, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t look for one. As you could have guessed from the trend from the past few weeks (or by looking at the title) Online shopping can be a probable solution.
As always, I will present both pros and cons of the argument, for the sake of a full discussion about the topic. First the cons:
The only major flaw with trying to save money while online shopping is the fact that the only method of payment is through debit or credit cards. This may seem innocuous, however to is a very important factor to consider. When you pay online you only see numbers on a screen that tells you the price of your purchases. For many people the significance of these numbers is lost on them until they compare it to their bank account statement. As a result, people may be more inclined to spend lots of money while shopping online because there isn’t the feeling of spending money isn’t emphasized. When you go to a store for example, and pay with cash, you are physically handing away your money, when making a purchase, thereby making the loss of money a real thing. Even when paying with a debit/credit card, we are forced to physically give over our cards and make the transaction a physical thing, rather than seem like a game on a computer.
Now the pros of online shopping: Firstly, sales tend to loose some power when making purchases online. On a computer, we see a marked down price, perhaps with some bold lettering that says “SALE”. However this is nothing compared to the sensory overload of going physically going to a store and being bombarded with dozens of giant “SALE” signs everywhere. Secondly, there is no peer pressure for spending money. Take Black Friday for example. Everyone’s favorite holiday, as indicated by the mass of people that line up outside stores before they open. When those doors are first opened, a wave of people swoop in to get to the best sales before they run out. Because of this pressure, people are more likely to make a quick purchase in fear that if they wait, they will miss out on a good deal. While this risk may exist in online shopping, such as lettering that indicates “ONLY 1 LEFT IN STOCK” the feeling of urgency is immensely mitigated by the fact that there is no physical rush. Lastly is that with online shopping, there is not as much temptation to browse items. Part of the fun of going to a store is to walk around the whole store and buy what interests you. While shopping online, there is a greater tendency to look for items that you need and browsing, while much more convenient, is a little more boring. Thus the chances of making a purchase on impulse is again reduced.
So with that said, I know many people will still probably go out on a spree on Black Friday, I know I probably will. But for those of you that want to build a thrifty habit, try shopping online and see if that helps you curb your spending spree.