RETAIL ADDICTION: Although it has been recently discovered that only 29 per cent of online shoppers in the region are satisfied with the goodies they have clicked their way into buying, the lure of online shopping is fast becoming a phenomenon. Experts fear that if this seemingly innocent craze goes unchecked, it could be the start of a psychologically and financially dangerous addiction.
For many with a decent Internet connection and online bank account, the temptation to unwrap a package or two every day may be too good to resist. The ease of getting everything you need -- or not -- at your doorstep with the click of a button is a lure that many youngsters, working adults and retirees are finding difficult to pass off.
Although shopping online saves one the hassle of braving traffic, finding a parking spot at the mall and waiting in long check-out queues, it can be the start of a damaging habit that many Malaysians are engaged in.
Rekindle International Marriage and Family Therapy Centre counselling psychologist Cathie Wu says the recent online shopping fad is because of a combination of factors, especially the greater availability of Internet shopping sites in the country over recent years.
"The obvious comfort and convenience of shopping at one's choice of time and setting, and the explosion of the Internet's presence in our daily lives across different platforms and devices, have contributed to this addiction.
"In an online environment, without the physical stimuli present in in-store retail, these elements play a greater role in determining consumers' purchasing behaviour."
Wu says studies have proven that shopping can have psychological effects, such as temporary boosts in confidence, which produce an increase in endorphins that cause the mood to lift.
"In retail addicts, this has become learned behaviour because of the association between emotional and psychological pleasure, and the experience of shopping.
"Research has cited young female adults, those between 20 and 40, as making up the majority of consumers in online retail, although local demographics may differ."