Online Shopping on the Rise After the Outbreak of Coronavirus

We are buying more online than ever before after the COVID-19 broke out. Data from the Office of National Statistics [ONS] shows that online shopping has been steadily growing year after year, rising from 18% of retail sales in 2018 to 19.2% in 2019. The pandemic has accelerated this shift. Recent reports show that Internet sales jumped in 2020 to occupy 28% of all retail sales, which is 46% increase, compared with 2019.

With the restrictions caused by the pandemic, people have gone online for everything from entertainment to socializing and shopping. Of course, due to social restrictions, online shopping was the only answer, but now that people have seen how easy and convenient online shopping can be, it has the potential to shape our shopping habits.

Through online shopping, we can get what we want quickly and we can order at a time that suits us. It also means we can shop safely and comfortably at our own home, avoiding the crowds of the high street. Because of this convenience, even in the times of lifted restrictions, Internet sales are at higher levels than before the COVID-19 spread. The ONS data shows that even in the lighter restrictions of August and September, online sales still occupies 26% of all retail sales.

Cost of Online Shopping

Online shopping takes huge environmental and social cost. The impact of increased packaging is greater than that of fuel emission. Unnecessarily too much packaging is used to transport a single item, creating a serious plastic environmental problem.

Convenience and better prices encourage people to buy more through online. What is heartbreaking is that the environmental cost increases as more products are manufactured and transported.

We are not just buying food or articles. It includes the entire process and method of materials, energy, labor, and transportation used to make it. We should think about the labor implications across the entire commodity chain, from extraction of resources to manufacturing (frequently overseas, in places with low labor standards) to the crews working in terrible conditions with few protection aboard ocean vessels.

“Cheap prices may seem appealing in the short term, but all of us as global citizens will ultimately end up paying the external cost, the true cost of the unsustainable consumption and production of cheap clothing based on the exploitation of raw materials,” says Cary Somers, Founder of Fashion Revolution (FR)

True Satisfaction and Happiness

It is well known that people seek happiness and self-worth by shopping. However, there is different perception about it.  According to a survey, it turned out that people often feel bad about their own useless purchases and overspending habits. They are aware that shopping does not lead to the increase of happiness in the long term. Around 50 percent of them report that their shopping excitement wears off within a day.

Tom Gilovich is a human behavior scientist. He performed several studies to examine people’s emotions when they buy things; and he found that people are happier and more satisfied when they spend money on experiences instead of things. He wrote,

“Satisfaction over purchases decreases over time. A new car does not stay new for very long, but a satisfying experience often becomes more positive over time as we remember it.”

 Buy Nothing Day

This year, November 26 is Buy Nothing Day. It was founded in Vancouver, Canada, by artist Ted Dave. It is celebrated in more than sixty five countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Korea.

This day was established in connection with anti-consumerism goals. The idea for this day is to urge people to change their consumption habits and reduce consumption and production. Buy Nothing Day encourages consumers not to purchase anything for 24 hours, and instead, spend their time and energy with their friends and family.

Adbusters, a company pivotal in the promotion of the Buy Nothing Day founded by Ted Dave, states, “The day isn’t just about changing your habits for one day, but about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste.”