Social Question

Jeruba's avatar

Of the last, say, ten things you bought online, how many did you actually need?

Asked by Jeruba (49749points) 1 month ago

People are shopping with Amazon and other online retailers for entertainment, relief from boredom, access to their favorite brands when local sources are down, and other reasons.

How many of those home-delivered purchases represent actual necessities, and how much is frivolous? Just wondering.

Q: Of the stuff you’ve bought online lately, how much was necessary? By “necessary” I mean things like essential medications, replacement supplies of personal and household basics, and, let’s say, quasi-necessities such as cellphones and automotive products.

I just checked my last ten Amazon orders. They included a replacement watch band and some herbal tea that I can’t get locally. All the rest I could easily have done without: maybe not all exactly frivolous, but certainly not necessary by any measure. I also bought a nice cloth mask on Etsy.

How about you? How much did you really have to buy online?

Tags as I wrote them: retail shopping, online vendors, Amazon, frivolity, virtual marketplace. I don’t know why some topics are just dropped when there’s nothing improper about them.

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24 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Six. Of the last ten on-line purchases, most were food related of basic necessity.
-One was for deemed-necessary supplies to maintain our bee hives.
-Another was for bins to store onions/potatoes, etc. under a kitchen cabinet, so utilitarian, but not a necessity.
-One was to purchase an airline ticket back to the US when the original flight was cancelled. (This was more of a necessity than wanted.)
-The last was purely desired; an oil painting that appealed to my partner.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Three the toilet paper, the gum detox toothpaste, and my size 13 walking shoes for $105 that will arrive tomorrow. The rest are books.

canidmajor's avatar

The food, the garden hose. The puzzles weren’t necessary, but helpful to my sanity, and the dvds were totally frivolous.

elbanditoroso's avatar

8 out of 10,

johnpowell's avatar

The crazy Japanese Fertilizer was for my sister. So maybe she needed it, probably didn’t.

But everything else was pretty much optional.

That router bit is a goddamn nightmare machine. A 2¾” bit at 20K RPM sounds like jet engine and it is terrifying. But it is one hell of a cool router bit.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Most of my online shopping is buying books for my Kindle, which I enjoy a great deal. I also buy loose tea from Amazon, because the price difference is enormous.

I don’t have an Amazon Prime account. My friend does. I tell him what I want, and he orders it using my address for shipping. I send him the money. It’s a good system that enables me to still get free shipping.

janbb's avatar

Pretty much everything I’ve bought online is a necessity. I don’t shop online for fun; I need something and sometimes getting it online makes the most sense.

Just checked my last orders to be sure; bug zapper, insect repellent, hand soap, hand sanitizer, waffle iron for gift for my son, sneakers, etc.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

10 for 10.
Needed all that I ordered.

JLeslie's avatar

Are you counting ordering groceries for curbside pick up? That is the only online order I have done in the last ten days, and I would say it was all necessary. There were about 20 items.

I very rarely order anything online.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Nuttin. I bought a dress online in March, for my niece’s wedding on Saturday, June 13. The dress arrived on Monday, June 15.

I ordered TP from Amazon in March which never arrived. Paypal credited me.

raum's avatar


Probably didn’t need to buy the glass hobnail marbles. But I’ve been trying to shop on Etsy more during this pandemic to support small businesses. Plus I think they will be a good sensory toy to keep in my pocket. To calm my nerves.

Actually, I probably bought more unnecessary things before this pandemic. Since we’ve been using the time at home as an opportunity to clean and purge; I’ve been less frivolous about my purchases.

ucme's avatar

This has always been the way, want over need when purchasing is how we’re wired.
Indeed, advertisers have manipulated this, however subliminally, since retail began.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Most recent 10 orders.
Face masks
Elucto Bug zapper
Canopy cover
Battery charger for 18650 batteries
Toner cartridge
Small Ozone generator
Ozone test strips
Car battery terminal
Nitrile gloves
Pond flocculent

All were necessary. The Elucto bug zapper was necessary and enjoyable.
I am so boring….

canidmajor's avatar

@LuckyGuy, you just won the thread with “pond flocculent”, which suggests, by its sound alone, that you ate having some naughty fun in/with your pond.

janbb's avatar

@LuckyGuy “I am so boring”

You said it, we didn’t! :-)

mazingerz88's avatar

Only 1 out of 10 I actually needed. Pills. The rest is dinosaur collectibles.

chyna's avatar

Depends on your definition of need.
I really needed that eyebrow gel which was my last purchase. It was much cheaper on Amazon than at Sephora.
I ordered an electric thermometer that I still haven’t received. Masks and kindle books round out the rest of my last 10 orders.

jca2's avatar

Lately, I’d say half. I have purchased a pressure washer from Costco, and some buttons for a craft project, and some clothes for myself and my daughter (whether or not I need clothes is up for debate). I also bought my daughter some kitchen things for her birthday. She asked for specific things. About two months ago I bought 100 masks with Groupon for about $75. I also bought cloth masks from a lady who makes them, I got a deal with her, 6 for $40 which is a good deal. I’d say those things were all in the “need” category.

What I didn’t need were books (a book set which includes a book my daughter read for her 7th grade class and I liked it, so I bought the 3 book set), and some tools for polymer clay (not needed). I bought fancy soap from Costco, which I don’t need but I love soap. I bought a handbag, which I technically didn’t need but I like to use a different one in the summer, and this was about $40 – you can’t beat that for a handbag. I bought stuff to make hand sanitizer and I never made it, and now it’s more available in stores.

So my answer is “about 50%” but some of the things in the first paragraph were useful but really not needed, so it’s hard to quantify.

ragingloli's avatar

I would like to think I needed that 500€ mobile AC.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

All of ‘em for work, all of ‘em fun. :)

canidmajor's avatar

I guess I should add the refrigerator to the “need” list, the old one died, so I did need the new one. I hated buying an appliance online, but oh, well.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@canidmajor One of my on-line purchases was a over-the-stove microwave, including installation and delivery.

stanleybmanly's avatar

2 half gallon jugs of maple syrup, shaving lotion for Uncle Eddy, batteries, 2,Cornell hoodies,

LadyMarissa's avatar

IF you had asked this in Jan or Feb, I would have said that I needed none of the last 10. Since going into isolation, 10 out of 10 are necessary!!! With the rapid increase in the virus, I’m still not going to the store, so I’m ordering my dog food, dog treats, rice, soups, & the like & having it delivered to my doorstep. I now have several friends who have tested positive & these are some of the same people who used to pick up grocery items for me. Another problem has been that local stores are no longer carrying a steady supply of pet food, so I’ve been forced to become creative.

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