Brits are spending millions of pounds by shopping online for items they don’t need, a new study by online solutions company Fasthosts reveals. What’s worse, plenty of impulse-bought items aren’t returned even if they’re unwanted. The result? The UK wastes £33.5 million a year on unwanted parcels.
Here are the facts behind the numbers and six steps to help you take control of your spending.
The rise of online shopping
Online shopping grew significantly during the pandemic. According to data from Statista, in March 2020, 40% of Brits said they were shopping more online than before the lockdowns.
By February 2021, 75% of Brits were falling in love with online shopping. “Our research showed that consumers’ shopping habits will be focused on online retailers, with almost half preferring to shop online rather than in person,” says Michelle Stark, sales and marketing director at Fasthosts.
The problem with that? It’s easy to get a little too excited about online purchases and end up with things you don’t really need, clothes that don’t fit or items you regret buying. And if you don’t return or exchange those unwanted or unneeded items, you’ll end up wasting a lot of money.
Brits waste a lot of money shopping online
Most Brits – 53.8% to be exact, according to Fasthosts – agree that shopping online is ‘a little too easy’ and that leads to overspending. In addition, two in five Brits admit to buying things they don’t need when shopping online. Add to that that over 77% of people find returning unwanted parcels time consuming and bothersome.
This results in the average Brit wasting over £616 a year on unnecessary items. And some cities are particularly ‘good’ at it. Residents of Newcastle waste over £1,200 a year on unwanted things they buy online. Liverpool, London and Sheffield all waste over £700 a year on unwanted products bought online.
6 steps to curb the urge to shop online
According to UK Rehab, up to 11% of young adults and adults in Europe suffer from some level of shopping addiction. Online shopping can feed this addiction, as it’s easy to spend any time and anywhere just using your phone. To stop yourself from overspending, it makes sense to have a plan before you start visiting your favourite virtual shops.
- Be aware of why you’re shopping – it’s a good first step to help you kick the habit. You can do this by being present and not shopping on the go. When shopping online, take the time to go over your potential purchases before you pay for anything.
- Use online shopping as a way to save time and money. Don’t shop online to cope with boredom or emotional issues. Instead, do something else, like taking a bath, reading a book or taking your dog for a long walk.
- Give yourself a shopping allowance. You could make it a monthly allowance so you can spend all of it at once on something bigger if that’s what you want.
- Unsubscribe from retailer email lists to avoid temptation if the urge to keep shopping gets too big.
- Always sleep on larger purchases. Add an item to your basket but don’t commit to buying it until the following day. This will give you some cooling off time and allow you to shop around for the best deal or other options.
- Focus on a longer-term financial goal to limit impulse spending. It’ll be easier to focus on saving instead of spending if you have a significant saving goal like buying a home or taking the trip of your dreams.