Window shopping has always been a big part of the daily life of consumers. With new items and goods always coming out, one can spend hours just looking at all of these options without ever actually buying a thing. However, in a world where the option to go out and window shop at real, physical stores has become less, what has window shopping become? A new trend of shopping online, adding things to carts, and then closing the tab before ever actually spending money has risen dramatically in the past year. “Last June, Jordan Elkind, who, at the time, served as the VP of retail insights for customer data and identity platform Amperity, told Today that data from the onset of the pandemic showed a 94.4% cart abandonment rate, compared to 85.1% in the comparable period last year. That would equate to billions of dollars in forgone e-commerce revenue, he said.”

Why is this happening?

This trend came at a time when people went from being able to go out whenever they wanted to being stuck inside all the time. This leads to a lot of shifts in mental states and can lead to a decline in happiness and fulfillment. “Research suggests that shopping — even hypothetical shopping — has psychological value, hence the term ‘retail therapy.'” This is indicative of a trend wherein even the idea of putting something in your cart, considering buying it, makes the consumer happy, and gives them that thrill.

“For Nancy Duarte, a 22-year-old, online window shopping was a way to fill time after graduating college during a pandemic, a difficult climate to find work. Now that she has a job, she said she usually looks after work on weeknights as a ‘treat.’ Others said they view it as a way to get away from social media, while lingering on the internet just a little bit longer. ‘Online shopping without actually following through on a purchase, I think, is honestly a way to pass the time — just somewhere different to be online besides Twitter or reading the news or something else depressing,’ Jennifer Vance, 26, said in an email. ‘And I think maybe just thinking about something new coming in the mail kind of simulates that same serotonin boost.’”

What does this mean for the businesses and retailers?

While this abandonment of shopping carts may seem very concerning at first, it is not quite as bad as that. The items that are being added to carts offer an insight into what that consumer may be interested in in the future. “The trend of mindlessly scrolling online, adding items to a cart and then abandoning them isn’t necessarily the worst thing for retailers, since they’re getting eyeballs on products and those could lead to potential sales, explained Dennis Hegstad. His company, LiveRecover, helps e-commerce companies re-capture shoppers who’ve abandoned their carts by sending text message reminders to customers who get far enough into the checkout process to include a phone number.”

Overall, this is just yet another development that shows a new change in the shopping world. Over time, consumers and retailers will continue to change and adapt, and situations such as this will continue to arise. Window shopping will always be a part of consumerism, and now perhaps its digital equivalent will join it.