The allure of online shopping

Today it’s the 26th of November… Exactly: Black Friday. The day that all shops, either physical or online, offer incredible sales on many products. Especially technical appliances are popular in the discount category; TV’s are offered with a minimum of €100 off, headphones are discounted with up to 50% and even phones are suddenly half their original price. And not only that, grocery shops suddenly also offer these kinds of technical devices for a limited time only. 

The phenomena of Black Friday has been around for a long time, mentioned as we know it for the first time in the 1950’s/60’s, preceding the time of ubiquitous internet use and possibilities for online shopping. It’s obvious that Black Friday isn’t a modern, digital phenomena, but we can definitely posit that the digital world we live in has revolutionized the shopping craze that is Black Friday. It has become much more widespread, important and promoted, as well as more safe, easy and less time consuming. You no longer have to stand in line before a shop opens, rummage through all the available products or fight over that one top the entire store just simply has to have. You can now simply make use of the incredible discounts from the comfort of your couch, during a quick lunch break at work or on your way home from class. And although these insane discounts are only temporary, the sites that offer them are there to stay and are available to you whenever. 

More and more different online shops are popping up, offering all the products you might possibly be in need of. Online clothing stores have been around for a while, but now also grocery stores offer the possibility to shop and have your daily necessities delivered to your front step, you can furnish your entire house by simply coursing through the IKEA site and apps like Vinted even make it possible to buy second-hand clothes to give you a feeling of sustainability, all while eating your favourite food which was ordered through the app of your favourite restaurant. 

The ease with which you can buy something is both an amazing advantage, as well as the utmost pitfall of online shopping, at least for consumers that is. 

The fact that you no longer have to leave your house to receive the products you need or want, is incredible. It increases the range of products you are exposed to, expands way beyond the stores that are physically present in your vicinity, is available 24/7 and generally saves you precious time due to the specific searching possibilities. During the pandemic it has undoubtedly been a solution to many who did not feel comfortable to expose themselves to the virus by going grocery shopping or by having to go out into the city. 

But all these positives can also be seen as enticing ways to make you spend more money than you initially intended. Because it is so easy and you are exposed to so many products, it is easier to think ‘oh but I really like this too, let’s just order it’. The ”free shipping above €…” doesn’t help this case either (I mean I always end up needing to spend just €2 extra to not have to pay the €4,95 shipping costs, so of course I’ll buy the extra €5 pair of socks I do not need). The boundaries that physical shopping encompasses have been removed, enticing us as consumers to keep on browsing, adding to (virtual) shopping carts and eventually buying all those things we don’t really need.