Online Shopping: Have We Been Spending More Money Than Ever?

Published March 29th, 2021 - 03:00 GMT
online shopping
Due to the COVID19 pandemic, online shopping services have seen a boost in both offers and demand worldwide. (Shutterstock:

Despite a slow, yet consistent rise in the popularity of online shopping over the last decade or so, the 2020 pandemic has given the industry an unexpected push forward, boosting not only the number of businesses making a digital transition but also the frequency at which consumers have gone online to purchase their needs.

Thanks to months of closures and movement restrictions imposed in different parts of the world, in addition to health and safety concerns following numerous recommendations of avoiding shared public spaces and direct contact with other people, online sales have been recording exceptional spikes since the spring of 2020. But does this necessarily suggest an increase in our spending?

Ever since online shopping has become a usual part of people's lives, even in regions where it wasn't an available option, questions have been coming up over whether or not this new practice is making us spend more or less money, and whether or not it is affecting our shopping tendencies,

While many people argue that not being able to visit shopping malls and wander through long aisles of products have actually negatively impacted our appetite for shopping, especially that many retailers have been warning against COVID-19 lockdowns because of how much harm it could inflict on their businesses, figures are actually suggesting a different reality.


It is true that certain aspects of online shopping can help consumers make better financial decisions, such as controlling the number of items they wish to buy and providing them with unending discounts and irresistible offers. However, numbers have been showing major spikes in consumers' spending in general during 2020, including online purchases.

According to Digital Commerce 360, online sales have generated an extra $105 billion for retail businesses in the US during 2020. In 2019, online sales made up about 15.8% of the overall sales in the US, compared to 21.3% during 2020.

Similarly, a Mastercard survey studying e-commerce in the UAE has found that 73% of people living in the country have used online shopping during 2020 more than they did in 2019.

These numbers are not only driven by people's growing tendency to make their purchases online during lockdown times but also by the increasing availability of e-commerce applications that offer consumers slashing discounts, in addition to unmatched convenience and comfort in terms of browsing through an endless number of items, many of which are unnecessary and are available for free delivery.

Have you noticed any changes in your consumption behaviour over the last year? How often have you been shopping online? How can you control your digital expenses at such times?

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