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Retail Industry Updates

For Some Consumers, Online Shopping Can be Dangerous

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Shopping online from the comforts of home can be easy and convenient, but it also leads to increased spending for some consumers if they aren’t careful, according to a recent survey of more than 2,000 consumers by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

Forty-one percent of Americans say the ability to shop online has made it harder for them to stick to a monthly budget. Fifty-six percent say they have increased their overall online shopping since the start of the pandemic.

“Online shopping is a powerful tool that can either bolster or bust your budget depending on how you approach it,” said Gregory J. Anton, chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “If you take the time to shop online strategically, you should be able to compare and save, which gives you the opportunity to allocate money toward other financial goals.”

The survey also found that 52% of Americans say buying things when they want, without thinking too much about how much they cost, makes them feel good, which is an activity sometimes referred to as “retail therapy.” About 40% of Americans say they often don’t realize the total amount they have spent on their credit or debit cards until they see their monthly statement.

“When spending is driven by emotions of want rather than need, it can get out of hand. Left unchecked, it can lead to serious financial drain,” Anton said.

The survey also found:

• 82% of Americans say promotions like free delivery or free shipping make them more likely to make an online purchase.

• 31% of Americans say their overall online/mobile shopping has increased “significantly” since the pandemic began.

• 39% of Americans cite an increase in ordering groceries online since the pandemic began.

• 33% of Americans say their use of third-party take-out delivery services has increased since the pandemic began.

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