According to market research by IBISWorld, the Australian Online Shopping Industry is growing at a much faster rate than the bricks-and-mortar retailing, with e-Commerce sales in Australia topping $16 billon in the past year and now employing over 62,000 Australians.
Each online consumer in Australia spends more than $2,000 per year, with the most popular online purchase categories being travel & accommodation, music & DVDs and clothing & jewellery.
But with wasteful consumption in Australia amounting to over $10.5 billion annually spent on goods and services that are never or hardly ever used, it seems as though the ability to buy online has just made it that much easier for us to make impulsive and regrettable purchases.
To find out if more money is being wasted in bricks-and-mortar shops or online, we surveyed some Stockspot clients to ask them about top purchases they regret.
Gym memberships (offline)
It always starts with good intentions – to be fitter and healthier (especially in the new year). These grand plans funnel around $3 billion into the Australian fitness industry, $1.7 billion of which goes towards gyms and personal training.
However 60% of gym memberships go unused after the first few visits, meaning we are spending more than $1 billion on imaginary workouts. In fact one Stockspot client told us that she recently helped cancel a gym membership which hadn’t been used for over 12 months since her friend was too embarrassed to cancel it herself.
Splurging too much on pets (offline / online)
Many pet owners admit they are initially hypnotised by cuteness and companionship, and stunned later by the continuous financial commitment that comes with caring for a pet properly.
It’s a bit harsh to say you regret your pet, but there’s no arguing that we often fall into the trap of splurging on things that our pets don’t really appreciate as much as we do. The pet industry makes million of dollars from us with expensive items like organic pet food made with natural ingredients, designer pet clothing and accessories, and gadgets like PetBit – a wearable fitness tracker for your pet – or PetCube so that you can chat to your pet remotely from your smartphone while you’re at work.
ABC’s ‘The Checkout’ even has a regular segment satirising the ridiculous things we buy for our pets:
For a cat or dog, MoneySmart estimates that owners will spend between$2,000 to $4,000 in the first year. The cost of owning a cat or a dog over its lifetime is between $13,000 and $25,000 – taking into account food, vet expenses, flea treatments, training, accessories and insurance.
Wedding waste (offline / online)
The cost of weddings in Australia continues to rise, with couples paying an average of $36,200 for their big day.
It’s very easy to get swept away with all the stuff you think you’re expected to have at your wedding, but looking back, many newlyweds admit to regretting having their initials embossed on napkins for $2,000 or spending $250 a head on great uncles, aunts and second cousins who haven’t been spotted since the wedding day.
With florists, caterers and photographers all charging a premium once the ‘w’ word is dropped, it pays to figure out ways to spend smarter on your wedding so that you can save your hard earned money for more long-term investments such as a down payment on a house! Here are our 15 money-saving wedding tips.
New tech gadgets (offline / online)
With so many new gadgets coming out onto the market, we are often lured into buying them as soon as they’re released without considering whether we’ll actually end up using them.
For example, many Australians now own a wearable fitness tracker like FitBit, Jawbone or Garmin Vivofit, with the sales of these devices increasing almost 4-fold compared to a year ago. However research has found that 50% of owners have stopped using them, with 33% giving up using it within the first 6 months. With the popular brands selling for up to $350 each, it’s probably more cost efficient to consider one of the cheaper versions that costs around $20 so that you’ve wasted less money down the track.
Professional amateurism (offline / online)
Nothing says newbie like unwrapping a brand new Taylor Made golf driver in your Jason Day outfit before a swing-and-a-miss on the first tee-off in front of your Sunday golf partners. As the saying goes, ‘All the gear but no idea’.
In an attempt to emulate their professional athlete heros, Australians love spending big dollars on top-tier sporting equipment. In fact, sports equipment is the 5th most popular online purchase category for Australians.
But for those of us who experience extreme enthusiasm about a new and expensive hobby such as golf, fishing, tennis or kiteboarding, getting your gear from garage sales, Gumtree or borrowing from a friend can sometimes suffice – at least to start.
22% of Australian men and 29% of Australian women aged 20-29 have at least one tattoo, while a third (34%) of tattooed Australians say that they feel some regret towards getting ink done.
Taking average prices in Sydney and Melbourne as a guideline, you would pay about $4,500 to get a 10 x 10cm multi-coloured tattoo removed, and $19,500 to get rid of a 30 x 40cm multi-coloured tattoo. And it may cost more than you’re initially led to believe. Tattoos are leaving inked-up Aussies with a continuous financial reminder of their decision.
Too much barista coffee (offline)
Aussies drop a whopping $3 billion dollars a year on their morning coffees and afternoon caffeine hits. One-a-day will cost you around $1,275 and if you’re more of a 2-a-day coffee drinker – you can do the maths.
68% of Aussie coffee-lovers have now admitted to investing in a machine for home and are saving a small fortune from their decision. Even a one-a-day drinker can save $1,000 per year by home-brewing versus buying from your local barista. The market for single-serve coffee is estimated to have grown 47% in 2014 to US$8 billon globally, presumably driven by George Clooney’s good looks. Looking past the celebrity endorsement, CHOICE did a taste test of barista coffee versus capsules and here were the results.
It still seems that offline purchases take the cake when it comes to purchases Australians regret. Travel and music, which are the most popular online shopping items, are much less likely to result in a case of buyer’s remorse.
Chris Brycki is the CEO and founder of Stockspot.