Online buying addiction in China

By Amber Li

If Zhang Yiyue does not buy something online, she feels empty.

“Sometimes I found things I bought that were unnecessary or not useful. Sometimes I would even forget what I have bought,” she said.

Zhang, 26, a private business owner, is a huge fan of online shopping who earns nearly 10,000 yuan ($1,510) in salary a month, almost all of which is spent on online shopping. She admitted that she shopped online every day, buying clothes, makeup and even toilet paper.

“Sometimes I just eat less to save money for online shopping,” she said. “I just can’t help buying things.”

Zhang is just one example of people who get addicted to online shopping in China. Since 2013, China’s online shopping market surpassed the United States for the first time, reaching 1.85 trillion yuan ($300 billion), becoming No. 1 in the world.
However, in the same year, Chang Ya’nan, a woman from the China University of Geosciences, committed suicide because she spent all her living expenses shopping online and felt sorry for her parents. Also, a couple in Zhejiang Province got divorced because the wife bought so much online.

Duan Chao, 22, a university student, said: “I spend more than 20,000 yuan ($3,021) for online shopping every month on average. Every month I would run out of all my money. I feel satisfied after buying something. I just want to buy more.”

When asked about the possibility of being addicted to online shopping, he said: “I’ve never thought of having this kind of problem. But now, I think… I’m quite serious. I’ve never realized before. ”

Since China started its online shopping records in 1996, the practice has gradually entered into people’s lives. According to a report published by an online shopping organization, Taobao, the number of individuals who like to shop in the evening spent 22.8 billion yuan ($3.44 billion) in China. Also, there are more than one billion people who had an average shopping purchase amount up to 16,000 yuan ($2,417) per year.

According to psychologists, the habit of online shopping is a new kind of urban disease, a kind of obsession many people may not realize.

A survey conducted by Red Net shows among 73 interviewees, more than 50 percent of them mostly depend on online shopping to meet their various needs; more than 60 percent of them spend one to 10,000 yuan ($1,510.6) every month, mainly for clothes and household products.

A survey of 200 people shows that 52.3 percent of the respondents say there are many addicted people in their lives while only 1.6 percent of them say there are almost no addicted people.

He Yinglin, 20, is a university student who never shops online. “It will cost me a lot of time making choices,” she said. “My roommate always skips classes because of online shopping. She can stare at the computer screen for the whole day. It’s horrible.”

He’s roommate receives packages every day and piles them in their dormitory, which in He’s opinion, is crazy. “I think online shopping has already severely affected her daily life. It seems that she can’t control herself.”

Liu Chun, a psychological professor at Jinan University, thinks that online shopping is another way for people to meet their daily needs. But some people have gone overboard.

“It’s more the excitement and satisfaction of shopping instead of the rational consumption,” Liu said, “People who have the addiction tend to attain pleasure by satisfying the desire for material possession from online shopping. ”

Liu thinks that people who have the addiction are more likely to be female, and it’s more likely to be people who feel lonely and depressed.

So, why do people gradually get lost in online shopping?

First, it’s because of a herd mentality, which leads to mindless consumption. Second, it’s due to the attitude pursuing lower prices and discounts. Third, it’s to release the pressure and get satisfied. Finally, people need online shopping to fill the emptiness in the fast-paced life.

“I think now most of the ‘addicted people’ only have the tendency of getting the addiction. However, if they do not pay attention, it will cause serious psychological problems and behavior disorders, such as despondency or mania,” Liu said.

She thinks the online shopping addiction may have serious effects on people’s mental health. She said: “What online shopping changes is not only the individual lives but also social ways. If people get addicted to online shopping, they will have less communication with others and stay away from the public, which will make them lose the passion for taking part in the public life.”

To stop the addiction people should have alternatives, such as more reading in one’s spare time. Second, people should have specific plans for shopping, such as a specific list of purchases. Finally, when people cannot control their actions and have problems in their daily life, they’d better go for the professional treatment.

“If there are people who have an online shopping addiction living around you, just give them more love and patience,” said Liu.

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