With shopping available to us at our fingertips 24/7, it’s easier than ever to POINT, CLICK and BUY!  One out of 14 Americans has some form of shopping addiction, otherwise known as “oniomania.” As we head into the holiday season of stuff, and with online retailers sweetening their deals, more of us than ever before are at risk of becoming addicted to online shopping.

That’s why local storage and organizing experts have launched an awareness campaign called “Empty Your Shopping Cart! Top 10 Tips to Stop Browsing and Buying,” a nationwide effort to warn consumers they are Prime targets — pun intended — for this growing problem!

“Our business has seen 20% growth each year for the last three years! We see mountains of things our customers accumulate in their homes, garages, attics — and they need our storage units, because they bought much of this stuff online and don’t even have a place to keep it all,” says Michael McAlhany, CEO and founder of UNITS Moving and Portable Storage, a nationwide franchise with local storage experts in our area. “Online shopping addiction has become a real and pervasive problem we want to help stop with this awareness campaign. The convenience makes it way too easy for us to buy stuff we can’t afford and have no place to store.”

Top 10 Tips To Stop Browsing and Buying

  • Delete your credit cards from retailers’ websites. They say it’s convenient for faster check-out, but it prevents you from taking time to pull out your credit card and really think about your purchase.
  • Unsubscribe to all those enticing daily deals and sales emails. They tempt you to buy things you don’t need.
  • Block internet access to your favorite shopping sites so you’re not tempted to browse when you’re bored or need a spending fix. Delete shopping apps from your mobile devices.
  • Pay cash for everything you buy. When you pull out cash, it puts up a physical barrier between you and what you’re about to buy, giving you time to really think about your purchase.
  • Don’t fall for store ploys, like spend $100 and get free shipping. These are marketing tactics to get you to buy more than you really want or need.
  • Eat before you shop, even internet shop. Studies show we buy more when we’re hungry.
  • Sleep on it.  Before you hit “Confirm Purchase,” keep the item in your shopping cart but walk away and give it a day or two. If you really want it, you’ll know after the waiting period.
  • Download apps, such as STAY FOCUSD, which limit your time on a website, so you don’t browse for stuff you don’t need.
  • Don’t internet window shop. Only buy what you need.
  • Don’t internet shop when you’re sad or anxious. A Huffington Post survey reveals 1 in 3 people shop to deal with stress

How Did Internet Shopping Become a National Pastime?

Sales Surfing High – Professors at Harvard Medical School say we get a dopamine jolt from buying stuff, and our brain tweaks us to want more, more and more. Online shopping gives us that immediate happiness hit, and we feel the secondary joy of delayed gratification when the order arrives a few days later, making it more physiologically rewarding than shopping in stores.

Amazon Addicts – 100 million people (a third of the U.S. population) have signed up for Amazon’s Prime Program to pay $119 a year for “free” two-day shipping. Now, many other retailers offer free shipping too, making online shopping harder to resist because you don’t have to battle shopping traffic and crowds, and don’t have to lug around heavy bags and boxes because the goods arrive right at your door.

Return Resisters – A recent NPR/Marist poll reveals 9 in 10 consumers rarely or NEVER return stuff they buy online. Even though most retailers have made it a pretty easy process, many consumers don’t want to bother following the directions to return a purchase they’ll never wear or use.

Mountains of Things – The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that in 2017 Americans spent $240 billion — twice as much as they spent in 2002, on goods like clothes, telephones, watches, books and communications equipment. Last year alone, Americans spent, on average, more than $971 on clothes, buying 66 pieces of clothing each and more than seven pairs of shoes.

Houses of Hoarders – We need more space for all our stuff. The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies reports that last year the average size of a single-family house in America was more than 2,400 square feet, a 23 percent hike from 20 years ago. The number of self-storage units such as UNITS mobile containers is increasing too. The U.S. has some 52,000 storage facilities nationwide, double the amount from 20 years ago.

“We have some folks who keep our storage containers right in their driveway or backyard because they just don’t have space in their homes for all their stuff, and we have others who keep it in our climate-controlled facility,” says McAlhany. “We’ve had to change the way we do business because, with mountains of stuff people are buying online, we’ve had to add special temperature controls and flooring and walls to our containers to make sure we preserve everyone’s belongings with no damage, mold or mildew.”

We’ve included our Internet Shopaholic Quiz to help determine if someone is headed for trouble.

QUIZ – Are You at Risk for Internet Shopping Addiction?

I like to shop online because it’s anonymous and I can avoid social interaction at the mall.
I feel I can’t stop internet shopping. I get angry or upset if I have to stop.
My internet purchases have hurt my relationships and/or my financial situation.
I hide things I buy online because I’m afraid others will think the purchases are unreasonable or a waste of money.
I often feel guilty after I buy something online.
I have online purchases with the tags still on them or sitting in unopened boxes because I never used or wore them.
I shop online at work and it makes me less productive.
I shop online to reduce stress.
I’ve given up other activities I enjoy to shop online.
Online shopping makes me relax and feel better.

If you answered yes to five of the 10 you may be headed for trouble!