Is Online Shopping Like Eating In Front Of The TV?

I often hear from people in the store that they do a lot of their shopping online because it’s less expensive. But according to a recent study of 1,000 subjects, they spent twice as much as they thought they had when shopping online. The way that online retailers operate…it’s easy to see why.



When you eat in front of the T.V. you’re distracted. This means it’s easier to consume more calories than you would otherwise. You may also perceive yourself to be hungry soon after because you didn’t really enjoy the food while you were eating it. Online shopping can often yield similar results. Online retailers make it very easy to shop. They store your credit card so you can shop without having to punch in the number. They offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount. “You’re almost at free shipping…just add $15.”  They offer coupons when you sign up the first time you shop. This means they have your email address and can drop cookies so you constantly see their ads. They watch what you search and then target you with items. One click and it’s yours.

It’s easy to click on Tuesday and then again on Thursday and then again on Sunday. You think you’re spending less, but you’re actually spending more. If you walked into the store and spent $250, signed the receipt and went home with the bag you would be very cognizant of what you spent. You may think it was a lot to spend, but you would be aware of it. Conversely, you purchase something online on Tuesday for $125, then Thursday for $48, Monday $45 and the following Wednesday for $76. Have you really saved money? If you walked into the store and looked at the item and held it in your hand, would you have put it back? Maybe.



Shopping in store also provides instant gratification. It’s about the experience. The interaction with the items and the employees is an activity. When you order online you have delayed gratification. You’re excited when you hit the “buy” button, when the box shows up, you’re excited again. That feeling may prompt you to hit the computer again. You don’t have the recent memory of the expense, so it’s easy to spend again.

The Challenge

I challenge all of you to take a month off from online shopping. I don’t mean pet food or AC filters. I’m talking about personal items. Go into the store for everything. Enjoy the experience…you may just find you’ll save money.


  • The latest from Angela
I have been a beauty junkie for what seems like forever, but before I did anything about it, I went to law school. (Yes, my life is a little like the reverse of Legally Blonde.) Then, I worked as a prosecutor in Sonoma County after which I moved to the DC area with my husband in ’97. I served as Majority Counsel to the Senate Banking Committee followed by a year-long stint at a lobbying firm. You get the picture. It was then that I decided to act on my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Finding my favorite beauty products proved to be impossible without stepping foot in a mall–the horror. So, I decided to bring my favorites to Alexandria. A few trips to New York and a flight to France and Bellacara was born in March 2000.

Located in historic Old Town Alexandria, for more than 17 years Bellacara has been Northern Virginia's preeminent boutique for high end cosmetic, skincare and haircare products. At Bellacara you will find premiere beauty products that have been carefully edited by the store’s owner, Angela Sitilides, who personally tests all the products sold in store. The boutique carries only the best product lines – Kiehl’s, Jouer, Dr. Dennis Gross, Christophe Robin, Moroccan Oil, Bumble & Bumble, Fresh, Molton Brown, Skinceuticals, Smashbox, Stila, Mario Badescu, Clarins, Dermalogica, Kevyn Aucoin, Kai, Child, St. Tropez, Smith and Cult, and many more.

1000 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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