Just like the lead from the 2009 film Confessions of a Shopaholic, I can somewhat relate to Rebecca Bloomwood. I never maxed out 12 credit cards like her, but I can’t seem to control myself from shopping — or in my case, online shopping. It’s a whole new thing that I got into ever since the country went into lockdown last year.
Do you know how there are always two parties pitted against each other? Well, in my story, it’s two shopping apps: Shopee and Lazada. There’s always a competition on which platform people can snag the most affordable prices. It may feel like a win, but the truth is my bank account is always the one that loses this battle during the monthly sales.
I still continue to purchase items even if that’s the case though *insert clown emoji* and now it’s time for me to tell you my so-called ‘confessions’.
It’s a coping mechanism
They say everyone has their favorite three-word phrase and mine is: add to cart. Yes, I used to press that button as soon as I see something cute or clothes that I would like to wear “when the pandemic is over”. There were also times when I would watch budol vlogs or hauls by my fave YouTubers just to check what to buy next.
Online shopping became my form of escape, a newly found coping mechanism to get through this isolation. But I know I’m not the only one who finds retail therapy soothing though. Statista showed that 89.3 percent of internet users in the Philippines stated that they searched online for a product or service.
The database company highlighted that online shoppers are mostly from the millennials and Gen-Z crowd, which is the age group I’m in. It also noted that Shopee had around 54.6 million monthly web visitors and Lazada had about 38.3 million. Guilty as charged, I’m definitely among those people.
Convenience is everything
Well-lit dressing rooms used to be one of my favorite places to decide on what piece I should get, while makeup testers gave me the freedom to swatch every shade until I make up my mind. But these IRL experiences were thrown out the window. For the past year, I now rely on reviews or browse through the brand’s photos.
It’s not all bad since I got the hang of it and find it very convenient. I’ll be safe from the virus and I can browse anytime, even when it’s past midnight. I don’t feel any pressure since I can still cancel an order in case I change my mind last minute. And of course, long lines are a nuisance, but now, I just have to wait a few days for it to be delivered to my doorstep.
She wants the D…iscount
I know I’m not alone in this battle of scoring the latest discounts. I can easily keep an eye on markdowns from my fave brands or participate in monthly sales in just one click. The amount of some items can also be a bit cheaper than the ones in malls. So it’s like minus the time and energy of traditional shopping.
If there’s something similar with purchasing online and the traditional in-person shopping, it’s the rush of getting dibs on the item you want when stocks are limited. So staying up at 12 AM just to get it feels rewarding. Plus, it’s a bonus when I score free shipping vouchers at that hour.
Parcels make me feel happy and guilty at the same time
The best part of online shopping is the day when I receive the package. My eyes sparkle when I see a notification that says that my parcel is out for delivery. When I receive a text from the delivery man, a.k.a. one of my modern heroes, I instantly reply to them faster than I probably responded to anyone.
As fun as the whole process of online shopping may sound, there’s also a huge downside that I realized longer than I should. All the parcels I received were wrapped in plastic. Some were even exaggeratedly covered in bubble wrap, which was completely useless for the item and very damaging to the Earth.
At one point, I made a couple of ecobricks, PET bottles packed with all the used plastic I consumed. I also tried to find organizations nearby that accept it. But I haven’t been consistent with creating more since my family thinks it’s risky to keep those pieces of plastic even if it’s disinfected, given the new variants of COVID-19. I do try to re-use it some other way.
Earlier in September, Greenpeace pushed for e-commerce companies in the Philippines to reduce the usage of plastic packaging and switch to sustainable alternatives. The environmental group cited Oceana’s data that states plastic packaging use will “more than double” from 942 million kg in 2019 to 2.056 billion kg in 2025. And I hope that all online brands would listen.
I’ve stopped buying clothes on a monthly basis unlike last year since supporting fast fashion brands also has a damaging impact on the environment. I can still count the times I splurged on clothes this year, which is progress for me. While I still consider adding to cart my cardio, I purchase more practical things now.