Online Retailers Have Figured Out How To Take Advantage Of Drunk Shoppers


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Call it BUI (buying under the influence), chardonnay shopping or what have you, but drunk shopping online is sweeping America, and the trend could be wreaking havoc on your finances.The Times’ Stephanie Clifford reports online retailers have become so hip to your sip-and-click habit that they’ve tailored their marketing strategies to reach the happiest (read: drunkest) consumers.

This means as soon as you slip on your beer goggles and log onto, your inbox is getting flooded with “deals” between the peak shopping hours of 6 and 9 p.m.

According to Clifford, Saks offered shoppers a $2,000 gift card with purchase at the ungodly 2 a.m. hour, while Neiman Marcus, another favourite among the ladies, hosted a “limited-quantity” sale at 7:38 p.m.

The thing is, sipping and clicking isn’t all that it seems. Sure, it’s looks like harmless fun—you’ll just return what you don’t want, right?—but the costs far outweigh the benefits. Here’s why: 

Returning items purchased online can be tougher than you think. As we’ve reported, online gift returns are slower than ever this season, with some retailers like Dell taking as long as two weeks to turn around orders. And while some retailers are savvy enough to offer free shipping on returns, not everyone is on board with the marketing gimmick. Of 25 retailers studied by the mystery shopper network STELLAService, only two—Nordstrom and Zappos—offer no-fee return shipping on purchases.

Your credit could take a huge hit. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Going on a massive shopping spree, especially a booze-fuelled bender on Rue La La, will send your credit straight to the trash can. You’d do better setting the money aside to pay off outstanding debt, like medical bills or student loans.

You’re bound to regret it. In a Lucky Magazine article, Alex Kuczynski writes about regretting all the stupid things she purchased, from a Nostalgia Electrics Pop-Up Hot Dog Toaster to Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. Another subject “groggily” clicked a purchase 13 times to ensure her order went through, only to receive 13 boxes of the item two days later.

You’re “what was I thinking?” purchase hurts retailers, too. They know when you’re clicking to buy, so don’t try to play innocent when you go to return that regretful nightgown. What’s more, as Kuczynski points out, “big return rates can dramatically reduce profits because the sites often have to absorb the cost of shipping and restocking.” At a time when the economy is all but sputtering along, is this really the way to behave?

You could develop a compulsive shopping addiction. Drink and shop once, shame on you … drink and shop twice … well, you may have a shopping addiction. If clicking away your sorrows over a stiff one is more about escapism than entertainment, it’s time to put down the tumbler, pick up a hobby or possibly seek help for your disorder. A great resource is

Tell us: What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve purchased while drinking and shopping online?

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