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  • Regina Wang

The Effect of Online Shopping on Society

Summer is here, meaning schools are out and everyone is finding new places to go. Of course, with the new season and new days to hang out comes the need for new clothes. This brings many people to their local malls or retail stores. Or does it?

For decades, malls have been staples of America, as well as the country’s “shopaholic” culture. Today, they are still often crowded with people getting together and buying new clothes or technology or even kitchen tools. Holidays like Christmas are a nightmare in those places. But in more recent years, online shopping has grown increasingly popular. Take Amazon, for instance. One can find almost anything there, as shown in their logo pointing from A-Z. With one’s credit card information entered by pressing the keys of numbers, spending money on things they may not need is even easier. The shopaholic culture may transfer from being in stores to in technology. As online shopping grows, it has positive and negative effects on society and on physical stores.

With the rising concern of the environment, people can reduce their carbon footprint by shopping online. This method of purchase also allows many to reduce some of their Black Friday nightmares, like the crowds and packed parking lots as the mall. They simply don’t have to travel anywhere to shop; they only have to hop onto their computers and scroll away. And in many cases, the website of a store will have many more selections than the actual store, especially those with products that can only be bought online, which can encourage more online shopping. Anything that doesn’t fit or doesn’t satisfy can be returned. Not only is the shopping being enhanced, the delivery process is as well. Packages are starting to be delivered by drones, such as those of Amazon’s PrimeAir program. Of course, this won’t become a worldwide thing just yet, but it is happening because of the frequency that people shop online now.

A problem with online shopping is the inability to see a product in person and/or try it on to see its quality. This leads people to rely heavily on other customers’ reviews to decide whether or not to make a purchase. High or low ratings can make a difference in their decision. And of course, the lack of people going to the mall to view products translates to empty malls. So many of them have closed, and more are likely going to in the future. Stores that were once full of hustle and bustle are now close to empty as many head to online shopping instead. New malls are not just stores, but also areas of entertainment such as theaters and bowling alleys, a contrast to what traditional malls were before.

Finally, there is a risk with online shopping. The Internet is never 100% secure. Identity theft can have a higher chance of occurring in the light of online shopping and one’s personal information entered in the online systems. It is thus important for one to take responsibility and make sure the site is secure for them to place an order. For instance, they should avoid saving their credit card information in a retailer’s website, as convenient as it may be. Safety always comes first.

With the pros and cons of online shopping, it is fair to say that everyone should practice it in moderation. For more and more people to become shopaholics would not be healthy, and physical malls still need people to keep them going. After all, walking around the mall and getting a little exercise would not hurt.

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