“Click, click, click” goes the mouse as you navigate through your favorite store’s online website.
You look up and see that you already have 11 items in your cart, but you’re only on the third of 14 pages of “casual outerwear.” Panic, frustration and despair overcome you as you realize you will have to sacrifice to get your order total back into the three digits.
Such is the experience of many online shoppers, who find it easier and more tempting to spend money virtually rather than in brick-and-mortar stores.
Some shoppers may like the increased availability online of some items versus in-store. When shopping online, the consumer has all of the items carried by every store in that chain at her fingertips.
“It’s a lot easier to look through the clothes (online) because sometimes things (in the store) are scattered while if you’re online you can just go to the specific categories to find what you want,” said Joseph Maalouf, a student at The Meadows School. He added that the clothes he wants are usually available only online.
Meadows student Alyssa Tortomasi says it’s easier to justify spending online. Tortomasi explained that she tends to spend more online because “in the store, I can talk myself out of buying it.”
Professor Simon Gottschalk of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ sociology department, explained that with today’s spread of credit and debit cards, “money has become more symbolic. … You never have to feel the materiality of the money.”
He said before there were credit cards, when he wanted to buy something new as a child, he would first have to save money. Having to physically put money aside let him grasp how much he had and could spend.
Now that monetary transactions can be made virtually, teens neither see nor feel the money leaving their hands. All they have to do is click a few buttons and payment is made behind the scenes.
Gottschalk said online shopping’s convenience deters teens from developing an important trait.
“One of the most principal lessons we have to learn is the ability to postpone our gratification,” Gottschalk said. “Not everything that you have the impulse to possess should be yours.”
Although shopping online requires fewer steps than shopping in-store, there are drawbacks. For example, objects may seem different online than when they arrive at your doorstep.
“It’s easier to find things online but it’s better to buy in the store because you can try things on, like shoes,” Meadows student Saliha Ahmad said.
She added that the percentage per year for which she shops online versus shopping in-store is about 25 percent versus 75 percent.