This is a time when everything is virtually available at your fingertips. No wonder then that we choose to sit within the confines of our home or office, browse the net and buy things we want. It’s all easy! To put some things into perspective, here are some numbers:
US – online shopping sales (USD 87.5 billion, Q3 2015) accounts for 7.4% of all retail sales (USD 1,185 billion, Q3 2015)
China – USD 143.5 billion, Q3 2015 online shopping sales – this is 12.3% of total retail sales
India – Forecast to touch USD 8.5 billion or 0.9% of total retail sales in the country
While there is still a huge gap between online shopping and traditional shopping, it will narrow down further over the years. Since when did we stop enjoy shopping for products by visiting stores? Have we become too lazy (including yours truly) to get out of our homes, go to the retail store, go through the selections available, like a product, buy it, pay for it and return home? Of course, online shopping comes with a wide array of mind-blowing selections et al, but the question lingers – have we become lazy?
The truth sadly is, yes. Getting up from bed itself is a gargantuan task these days, let alone online shopping. With that kind of a mentality, it’s not surprising that we want everything delivered to us at our doorsteps. I’m not preaching – I myself am guilty here – a moderately significant proportion of things I buy, are done through online shopping. The point I’m trying to make here is laziness is what has so far resulted in and will lead to a further explosion of online shopping numbers as we end the second decade and start the third decade of the 21st century.
Attractive discounts, some of which run throughout the year, might be a great incentive to prefer online shopping. The choice of brands or products on display is also a big contributor. There is no stopping this – in fact, this shows the progression that technology has made and also of people finding more comfort in technology. It’s all good when we think about it – mankind developing and all those maudlin stuff.
There’s a cost to this laziness – our health. Will all the discounts be enough to provide for our health? Is sitting long hours in front of our laptops and smartphones when we should be pulling trolleys and exercising our hands and legs and of course tummies desirable?
The US government spent USD 512 billion dollars on health in 2015 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_United_States_federal_budget) The per capita spending in the US on health was USD 9,146 in 2013 (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.PCAP/countries?display=default). Similarly, the Indian government has budgeted $4.81 billion for health in 2015/16 (http://in.reuters.com/article/india-health-budget-idINKBN0LW0LQ20150228) and the per capita spending was USD 61 in 2013 (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.PCAP/countries?display=default).
Obviously, expenditure on health is accelerating. With the proliferation of online shopping, the per capita expenditure on health will only increase. The money that is saved on a product by way of the discounts offered by the online retailers would probably be eaten up by medical bills. Unfortunately, numbers on total value of discounts offered by retailers are not publicly available. However, it would be peanuts compared to the money that is released from the exchequer.
In another 10-15 years, with the manifold increase in the proportion of online retailing, I’m predicting that online retailers will need to cough up a tax credit to consumers to compensate for the decline in health standards. This can fund the health costs of consumers. Guess what, this will be a relief to the governments as well.
Sounds logical, but that should not be a cue for more laziness!