The drums of war

The drums of war

No social media citizen worth his/her salt will be unaware of the massive bouquet of offers rolled out by the E-commerce giants this festival season. Electronic appliances, furniture, fashion accessories, footwear, bedsheets, detergent, fruits, pepper — anything and everything seems to be on sale as companies vie with one another to attract eyeballs and wallets of customers.

According to a survey by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industries (ASSOCHAM) National Council on E-commerce, Indians may spend more than Rs 30,000 crore during the one-month sale. 30k crore! One feels like pushing that survey paper under the very nose of Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and saying ‘See?’.

What is about online sales that induces such a frenzy of mindless buying and spending? Even the otherwise sensible ones can’t seem to resist the glitzy Venus flytrap of Diwali sales and give in with that oft-heard ‘Just this once. Everyone seems to be buying.’ In fact, that sums one of the major drivers of this spending juggernaut — the feeling that everyone is buying something or the other and you may be missing out on great deals if you don’t jump on the bandwagon. This is accentuated by the constant mails, posts and messages that bombard us. ‘This is the last day. Have you shopped yet?’, ‘Hurry! Offers last only as long as stocks do’, ‘Last day to grab upto 90% off’ — I start getting anxiety attacks when I see these and my debit card balance only adds to this agitation.

It is not just the online vendors, even banks and airline companies are going full throttle to throttle you with offers. It has reached a stage where we have sales on loans and EMIs! Chances are that if you can afford a 3 BHK ready-to-move-into flat or a premium version of the latest hatchback in a city like Bengaluru, you don’t really care about the discounts.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of these shopping extravaganzas myself. But while retail therapy has its benefits written in stone, too much of anything is not obviously not good — at least not for the ones with a less-than-spectacular paycheck. Apart from the process of spending money, the act of shopping itself has become a nerve-wracking process now. Take for example the innocuous act of buying a ‘kurta’ online. After sorting and sifting through thousands of options, modelled by stunning ladies who could pull of tattered rags with elan, you finally zero in on one. When you navigate the tricky maze of selecting size, colour and mode of payment, the site decides to go full 'neighbourhood shop uncle' on you and pulls out another array of garments with the caption ‘The people who viewed this item saw these too’. Why would you do that to me?

It is one thing to pick out good deals and quite another to pick out a carpet cleaner for the carpet that you will buy after a year just because it’s on sale. Relax people! There is no dearth of festivals and online offers; you can buy this stuff later too. But obviously, this phenomena of online sales is no more about picking what you need, it is about picking contenders who look good and are least dangerous to your fiscal position — now, that sounds suspiciously like the government’s description of the bullet train!

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