Track shipment: Online shopping our way through this pandemic | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

You have to admire their optimism, I thought, as I unboxed the 2021 planners sent over by a popular coffee chain. A scheduler is likely among the objects people will need the least in the coming year.

But I could say the same for all those pairs of shoes in my already checked-out online carts. Wherever do I hope to wear them, when I’ll probably be spending the next year stuck at home, barefoot or in slippers at best?

Well, we could have a vaccine soon …

You have to either applaud my optimism or admonish me for my foolishness. Wait—I’m just getting started.

Though no stranger to online shopping, I’ve always preferred to go to stores, to touch and see things. But during this very long quarantine, there’s practically nothing I haven’t bought off the internet.

In the beginning, I started having only the necessities delivered—groceries, medicines, face masks, face shields.

When restaurants and home-based food businesses reopened for delivery, I was only too happy to toss the pans and ladles aside and once more feed on meals I didn’t make.

Then I moved on to other things. In July I bought a yoga mat, cute yoga clothes—stuff, I reasoned, were necessary for my renewed commitment to fitness. (I have not unfurled my yoga mat since September. The workout clothes are still cute and new.)

During one rather stressful day—because stress is a legitimate excuse for anything these days—I bought three pairs of white sneakers before I turned in for the night. (It’s okay, they’re all from ethical and sustainable brands, I told myself. They’re still in their boxes.) We cope in different ways.

Still, there are plenty of gaps to fill in one’s days these days, and it’s just too easy to tap on one’s phone. So I’ve also bought an air fryer and a clothes steamer, things I don’t really need but was curious to try. On a coworker’s glowing recommendation, I also bought a rotating floor mop, so shoot me. When the AC broke down, I bought an AC online—quick and easy.

Then my iPhone went kaput. I did the unthinkable and bought my most expensive single purchase online to date and got a new iPhone.

Cabin fever

Retail may have taken a major beating from the global lockdowns, but retailers can count on those with severe cases of cabin fever to start putting some balm on all that lost business.

Not many may be going to the reopened physical shops yet, but “track shipment” has become many people’s favorite activity. It gives one something to look forward to, a purpose—or so we tell ourselves—when you have nowhere else to go.

I blame it on e-stores for making it too easy. Stuff bought from the other side of the globe is at your doorstep in three to five days. Good news if you have low EQ.

Local shops have a lot of catching up to do in terms of speed and efficiency as they attempt to offer retail online: I bought shoes (you see a pattern here) from a London-based fashion retailer on Nov. 26, a Thursday, and received it the following Monday. Meanwhile, I bought two items from a Philippine-based e-store on Nov. 12; it’s Nov. 30 as I write this, and I’m still hoping to receive them before this pandemic is over.

If people cooped up at home are willing to pay full price for stuff on a regular day, consider the damage of the 10.10, 11.11, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on these same people. “Na-budol (bewitched),” as one clever friend put it.

But it’s not na-budol if it’s deeply discounted, right? It’s not na-budol if the screen says you saved XXX amount. It’s not na-budol if you pay, say, $100 for an object that used to cost 10 times that.

At least that’s what I tell myself as I add to cart high-ticket items on clearance. Because I may like nice things, but I’m also smart to take the advice of someone who worked for a long time in luxury retail: Never, ever pay full price, unless you really, really, really like it.

That was the thing about shopping before this pandemic—going to the store, touching, looking at, perhaps trying on beautiful things were the rewards in themselves. If you liked something enough, you probably bought it. Otherwise, you moved on. There were other stuff to do, other things to find joy out off.

But as we’re stuck at home, with nowhere to go, there’s no payoff to just staring at objects on your phone or computer.

While it’s a fun pastime to add things to your virtual cart, it’s pointless until the courier leaves those objects at your doorstep. They’re your prize, your reprieve, your one consolation from these never-ending days of invariable sameness. You feel you are owed for having been thrown in this situation, and you deserve to be compensated—even if that redress also comes from your own pocket.

I think I’ve made my case. Now excuse me as I go track my shipments. INQ

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