Enjoy Fashion

Adding To Cart But Never Buying = Window Shopping Online

Rebecca Cohen  |  August 24, 2020

Nope, you're not the only one shopping online (or should we say browsing), adding items to your cart, then abandoning ship with no purchases to your name.

Last week, during HerMoney’s weekly team meeting, we got to talking about some of the online sales we’d been shopping recently, and our very own Jean Chatzky posed a question to the group that made us all raise our hands in unison: 

“Are any of you just doing a lot of online browsing rather than shopping, putting things in your cart, but then abandoning that cart?  Every one of us agreed. “It’s basically like a new way to window shop,” I suggested. 

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Although we all got a good laugh out of the fact that we’ve all been doing the same thing as we scroll our favorite retailers while watching TV every night, we also figured there’s no way we can be the only ones abandoning our online shopping carts more frequently than we advance to checkout. We turned to the women of our private HerMoney Facebook group to see what their online shopping habits really look like these days. Here’s what they had to say. 

The Shoppers 

Savings and sales are king for anyone online shopping, whether you’re pulling the trigger on purchases, or simply browsing. 

“I didn’t buy much at the beginning [of the pandemic],” says Portia B. “Now that I know I am working from home for more than likely the rest of the year, I am trying to buy things that make me more comfortable.” Desk? Check. Monitor? Check. Sweatpants? Check. 

READ MORE: 10 Money-Saving Lessons I Learned While Exclusively Shopping Farmers Markets

Heather G. has been shopping online, but only for a limited list of items. “We need a new couch,” she writes, “and won’t be getting one until we can safely get to a showroom. There is a limit on what I’ll buy sight unseen.” 

Sherry M. has been trying to shop small, heading to Etsy when she needs masks or anything else. “I’d prefer to give support to independent business owners and artisans,” she says. 

When Nicole A. shops online, she uses “Honey,” a Google Chrome extension that allows her to save items on a wishlist and then notifies her when they go on sale. Kelsey W. is also into bargain shopping, doing most of her “frivolous” spending on Poshmark or Mercari — discounted resale sites. 

Diane R., who loves buying premium fabrics for homemade creations, reminds us that “life is short.” So, she buys the fabric. 

The Browsers 

The common thread here? Patience is key. 

Carrie S. says “I put the things I like on a wishlist or into a cart, and try to think about it for a few days to decide if it’s something I really want, or if I’m just bored.”

Lauren K. has been embracing this version of window shopping. “ It has helped me curb impulse buying, wait for better sales, and really decide whether I want the thing or not. Very happy with my habit,” she says. Stepahnie P. does the same when online shopping, citing difficult returns processes as a factor in cutting back on her own impulsivity when it comes to shopping. 

For some, being able to touch an item in the store, and try it on to make sure it looks great, is a crucial part of shopping that gets left out at the online marketplace. “I look at a bunch of different online clothing boutiques and put a ton of stuff in my cart that I know I won’t buy. I think my biggest hangup is that I like to see things in person,” says Christine W.  This was seconded by Cara T. , who explained, “since I can’t touch or feel or see clothes walking through the store this is the online equivalent.” 

And even when Cara T. finds stuff she loves, she also does it because usually she would buy new things for the season, or replace old things but now she finds herself “stopping and questioning ‘why do I need this?'” she says. 

For some, it’s simply entertainment. “I find myself with more free time and I’m bored, so I browse but don’t often buy,” says Liz D. 

The Savers

Shopping is for necessities. Period. 

“I only shop when I need a specific item,” says Maureen S., who explains that she usually Googles said item to find the cheapest price, but usually opts to buy on Amazon because there is free shipping and an easy returns process.

“This pandemic has forced me to learn the difference between what I need (like groceries, medicine, health care products, gas, cat food) and what I want,” says Pat S., who explained how she learned she can live without a lot of her wants while (gleefully) watching her savings account grow.  “So now, shopping is a new experience,” she says. 


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