Over the last few years, a huge increase in people shopping online has become visible. Especially during the pandemic, when the world was locked inside, what better way to kill the time than indulging in a bit of retail therapy. The UK has a strong appetite for fast fashion, as we buy more clothes per person in the UK than any other country in the whole of Europe. Are these eye-grabbing sales and discounts worth bargaining for? Or are we really paying a larger price than what we actually bargained for?
Sales, Sales, Sales
As an online shopper myself, it is hard to ignore the insane amount of sales that occur on clothing retail websites and apps. Of course, there are worldwide sales when it comes to Black Friday (which now seem to be dragged out for the full month of November) and Boxing Day. But, why are these increasingly large numbers of sales affecting the way people consume their clothing and therefore, having a ripple effect on the environment?
Focussing on high-street brands, it is easy to see why people have a great appetite for delving into sales. With websites offering you discounts when you download the app, random 20% offs and flash sales between the times of 7-9 pm, it is time to question: is it really necessary? Having flash sales, conveniently at peak times when people are most likely to be aimlessly scrolling on their phones, increases the chance that they will purchase something; something they do not actually need. According to a Greenpeace survey, happiness that derives from shopping and consuming doesn't even last a day, yet the effects of our needless consumer habits will last a lifetime.
Around 300,000 tonnes of used clothes are burnt or buried in a landfill every year in the UK, and a lot of materials used for these clothes take decades or even centuries to decompose. Materials such as linen, silk and cotton produce potent greenhouse gases such as methane when they are degrading. Polyester, which appears in a lot of in-demand clothing, can take up to 200 years to decompose.
So before we give in to the sales when we are bored or need a bit of a pick-me-up, as consumers it is important to bear in mind the ways that our online shopping habits affect the world. Buying something just because it has 20% off but you only wear it once or twice, and end up throwing it away contributes to the global crisis of fast fashion. So much so, that if the UK continues its harmful shopping habits, by 2050 fashion will take up 1/4 of the world's carbon budget.
Around 300,000 tonnes of used clothes are burnt or buried in a landfill every year in the UK.
Deceit on the Receipt
A lot of online retailers deceive their customers. Some retailers use what is called 'fictitious pricing' which lists an original price of a product that does not actually match the previous selling price, in order to boost sales. I notice brands such as Nasty Gal and I SAW IT FIRST use this technique in order to make their customers believe that they are getting an excellent bargain, when in fact they are not. Consumers view these products as better quality and more desirable to purchase. And who can blame them? Inevitably this strategic and deceitful marketing technique will increase sales and the possibility of overconsumption. Having the pleasure and buzz when finding a great bargain does not last; especially when you learn you are being misled. So before you buy that coat that used to be £150 and is now £35, just remember to do some research!
These retailers are inevitably responsible for the ways in which they market and advertise their products and the way that their excessive sales attract customers. But, what can customers do to be mindful and stay aware of the ways that excessive sales and discounts contribute to overconsumption?
Don't give in to flash sales, if you really do not need the items! Remember the shopping buzz does not last, but the effect of needless shopping does.
Ask yourself 'am I going to wear this 30 times?', do you have a lot of opportunities to wear the items you're buying? If not, why bother wasting your money and throwing it away in the landfill?
Don't take sale prices at face value. Look into the retailer, fictitious pricing happens all the time so do your research - don't succumb to the misleading bargains!