As the holidays quickly approach, an abundance of deals and flash sales populate Canadian email inboxes. While retail stores have impulse items by the check-out, the internet takes advantage of the convenience of online shopping! What does this mean for consumers who have difficulty curbing their spending? Canadians who have difficulty saying no to “money saving” deals can become compulsive shoppers, buying things they don’t need.
A Statistics Canada report released last October found that the value of online orders placed by Canadians reached $18.9 billion in 2012 – a 24 per cent increase from 2010. Recent research by Emarketer suggests that business-to-consumer ecommerce sales in Canada will continue to rise to $36.77 billion in 2014, including $25.37 billion in retail e-commerce spending alone. This trend is expected to continue as e-commerce companies design their websites for display on mobile phones and tablets, making it even more convenient for online shoppers to make purchases on-the-go.
So what can Canadians do to ease their way into better online shopping habits?
Jeff Schwartz, Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., suggests, “Individuals can reduce the temptation by unsubscribing from emailed daily newsletters and deal lists. If more help is required, financial counselling is recommended to teach compulsive shoppers how to maintain control over their spending while reducing or stopping their shopping habits altogether.”
Consolidated Credit provides the following five tips for avoiding impulse shopping online –
Unsubscribe from Daily Deals – Daily newsletters are laced with impulsive language such as “Flash sale!” and “Today Only!” For people who struggle with impulsive shopping, it is wise to unsubscribe. Daily deal newsletters are enablers for shopping addictions and should not be coming to your mailbox.
Follow the 30-Minute Rule – If you see something you like online, wait at least 30 minutes before purchasing it. Take a break from the computer. After 30 minutes, see if you still want the item. Sometimes all it takes is time to re-think your purchases to realize if the item is something you need.
Keep Your Credit Card Offline – Many retailers lure consumers with their “easy, one-click” purchasing by saving credit card information. Opt out of these services to give yourself room to actually think about what you are buying. Same goes with apps for phones – disable any auto-pay capabilities.
Make a Shopping Budget – Make a budget and count your online shipping budget the same way you would with in-store shopping. It is also recommended to have a “splurge” budget. Put away a small amount of money each month for online shopping to be used after your essential expenses are covered.
Use Time-Limiting Software – For people who are susceptible to marathon sessions of online shopping, use software tools to help limit your time on your most visited websites. StayFocused, for example, is a popular browser extension for Google Chrome which will block websites you’ve used for too long.
If you want to learn more about making responsible financial decisions, check out Consolidated Credit’s free Personal Finance educational section. If you’re struggling with debt, call one of our trained counsellors today at 1-888-294-3130 for a free debt analysis.