Why Aussie men are splurging (and how to save money shopping online)

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Men are treating themselves this festive season, spending an average of $182 in online spending for themselves. But research suggests this could be a symptom of a more worrying trend.

"COVID has accelerated the trend for more people to shop online," says eBay Australia's Sophie Onikul.

"Consumer behaviour won't just snap back to where it was and enough time has now passed for the habit of shopping online to form."

men treating themselves online shopping

Ahead of Christmas, the move to online shopping has increased self-gifting.

Research from ebay.com.au and buy now, pay later platform  Afterpay found that nearly half (44%) of Aussies admit they plan to "self-gift" a present or money this festive season.

Men treat themselves the most, spending $182 on average, compared to $150 among women.

Many of these purchases are impulsive.

"People are continuing to spend and their threshold for an instant (versus considered) purchase is higher than pre-COVID," says Onikul.

These trends are backed by survey results released by MyState Bank.

It found that Aussies are spending more online in order to reach free shipping limits, and are less inclined to return goods that don't suit them.

Nor is shopping online translating into cost savings, with more than a third of Australians (36%) indicating they spend more money shopping online compared with physical stores.

"With the online sales season in full swing, our research uncovered Australians are engaging in online shopping habits which are likely burning a hole in their pockets," says MyState Bank's Heather McGovern.

"We calculated costly habits - from using online shopping as an escape from stress or boredom to keeping an item not fit for them to use - are costing online shoppers an average of $424 each year."

Aussies are being lured in by the ease and cost savings offered by online shopping, leading to further spending.

More than 20% of respondents indicated they were buying unnecessary items simply because they were on sale, while 17% store credit card details in their favourite retailers' websites to enable speed up future purchases.

"While many Australians enjoy the conveniences of online shopping, the danger is that there aren't many barriers to spending money. Compared to shopping in a store, consumers don't have to put as much effort or thought into adding things to their cart."

McGovern says you can rein your Christmas spending by following some basic tips.

1. Buy more, just less often

Shipping fees can be steep for some retailers; however, shoppers can minimise or entirely avoid these costs by buying more items, less often. Use bookmarks to save the items for any items you like and wait until you have two or three other items from that same site bookmarked before you buy.

2. Abandon your shopping cart for a day or two

Retailers create a sense of urgency intended to convince you to buy something you really don't need, or at least, don't need right this very moment. Resist the urge by leaving your items in your shopping cart for a day or two and see if the desire to purchase the items is still there when you return.

3. Delete pre-saved details from retailer's website

While it can be a convenient way to speed through the checkout, having your details pre-saved can be a sure way of fostering online impulse purchases.

4. Create a separate email account for promotional materials

It can be difficult to resist buying things you don't need when your inbox is constantly flooded with flash sales and specials. Consider creating a separate email account just for emails from online stores to help you easily locate order confirmations, tracking information, and other important info related to your online purchases when you need to.

5. Use e-coupons and compare prices

A major advantage with online shopping is that it allows easy comparison of prices between sites for the same or similar items. Coupon codes that might not be available (or easy to find) in stores is another savvy strategy to help you save on your online order.

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine and is one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.