Pakistani women’s online shopping habits are changing

Every day, millions of fingers perform the “browse, add to cart, and checkout” dance on countless keyboards around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping and triggered changes in human behaviors that are likely to have lasting effects. While online shopping was once considered the tech-savvy pastime, almost every family member has now jumped on the online shopping bandwagon. Whether it’s groceries or medicine, school supplies or cosmetics, high-end clothing or gadgets, exercise equipment or fast food, almost everything is purchased online.

Competition between e-commerce sites is fierce. Flash sales, deep discounts and mega deals are frequently launched to attract more and more customers. But with great availability comes great expense. Not everyone is comfortable sharing details of their online purchases with family members. The reasons can be varied, but more and more people are hiding their purchases from their spouse, parents and immediate family members.

“The purchase of personal items is associated with selfishness or the belief that a mother should not spend on herself. And you will be surprised how deeply rooted this concept is in our society.

“Living in a joint family system, one seems to be responsible for every little personal item purchased,” says Farah, a mother of two. “The fear of being disapproved or considered extravagant weighs heavily on the mind. I often pass off new clothes as gifts from my parents. Even a whiff of new perfume or the sight of a handbag brand can send in-laws into a frenzy.Because new purchases can cause breakups or arguments in the house, even husbands become disapproving, so I have to lie about my buying habits.I make sure that the delivery guy doesn’t ring and call on my number so I can pick things up personally without alerting anyone in the house.

“Looking good has a price. I’m addicted to hair and skin care products, especially anything that promises me blemish- and blemish-free skin,” laughs Anum, a young college student. “I know that ads are created to manipulate our consumer habits, but every time I see an ad promising radiant, acne-free skin, I have a strong urge to try the product. I’m not ashamed to my addiction, but I hide my stuff because I don’t want other women in my family to borrow cosmetics or hear sarcastic comments about my spending habits.

“Privacy, giving space and minding one’s business are still rare notions in our society. Our older generation is not used to delivering packages and especially those that come with a cash on delivery label. You end up feeling like a convict on trial. It is also about changing traditions. If I go to the local market, buy unsewn fabric, visit rangai wala, lace wala and the tailor, this will be considered “normal” behavior. have a brand ready kurti delivered to the door forces my in-laws to set up a tribunal that could make the Spanish Inquisition look Lilliputian.

Money is one of the main reasons married couples fight and sometimes the best way to avoid a fight with a spouse is to hide any evidence of a shopping spree. But what does it say about our relationships, when a person has to lie, cheat, or hide their actions to avoid an argument or critical opinions. For many women, it’s about independence – a desire to have some personal space and the freedom to buy things and not have to explain or answer to anyone. But since we live in a society with a lot of financial interdependence within families, this is a difficult thing.

“Most of us are brought up to believe that running the household, budgeting and saving for the future of the children is a woman’s responsibility, especially our daughter’s dowry if you have the lucky,” says Fakhra, who has three young daughters.

“The purchase of personal items is associated with selfishness or the belief that a mother should not spend on herself. And you will be surprised how deeply rooted this concept is in our society. Many still believe that money should be saved for the future or spent on children, but this is an outdated concept, especially since working women have their own money and needs for which they must not neither be judged nor blamed.

If a person does not possess a strong will or is unhappy or stressed in life, they may not be able to resist and end up buying unnecessary things, which leads to more guilt and stress.

But there is also another side to the story. People sometimes use shopping as an excuse to alleviate boredom or emotional stress or even to engage in “revenge shopping” where a person who is forced to lead a frugal life engages in secret shopping and spends a huge amount of money in luxury items.

For people who feel compelled to hide their purchases, it’s like other addictions – there’s a sense of stress and guilt attached to their actions, and hiding the purchases is an attempt to hide that shame.

Munira Ahmed, Certified Life Coach and Founder of Parenting and Relationship Coaching Pakistan (PRC) says, “Material possessions are sometimes falsely equated with happiness, but in reality it is the process of buying that gives a person a lift. of adrenaline which decreases after a bit. time. If a person seeks happiness through this experience, they may end up buying a lot of things that are neither wanted nor needed. People need to replace this addiction with more meaningful and positive experiences such as learning arts and skills that positively impact the mind and soul.

If a person does not possess a strong will or is unhappy or stressed in life, they may not be able to resist and end up buying unnecessary things, which leads to more guilt and stress. Being aware requires setting boundaries.

“Paradoxically, the more material possessions you accumulate, the more stress and dissatisfaction you feel,” says Ahmed, whose workshops aim to empower women to take charge of their well-being and their entire lives. “Both physical clutter and emotional clutter have a very negative impact on a person’s psyche, so it’s best to be mindful of your impulses. Above all, be honest with yourself. If impulse buying and Secret shopping doesn’t hurt your finances, so fine, but if it’s used to fill a void or financially strain your family, then the underlying issues need to be addressed. yourself so that you are not encouraged to lie or cheat about your shopping habits in front of your spouse or your in-laws. But above all do not seek contentment and happiness by hoarding possessions and then hiding them in dark corners from your closet.

About Renee Williams

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