Over the last few years, a curious phenomenon has arisen in the world of online commerce: it seems that people tend to buy things during evening hours, right around when they're also unwinding after work with a glass or entire bottle of wine. While you may have thought it your own mildly embarrassing secret vice, getting drunk and buying dumb crap online is more common than you might think, and online retailers are taking notice.

Don't expect to see billboards encouraging the imbibed to spend just yet, though; retailers don't want to be seen as encouraging drunk people to act irresponsibly. Instead, the Times reports that in response to the "Shop Till You Vom" trend that's alive and well among America's lushes, stores are making it easier for the drunken masses to make regrettable purchasing decisions in their online marketplaces. From one click buying to phone apps to special late night sales, everyone from Gilt to Neiman Marcus to eBay is adjusting to our collective drink n' buy habit.


Retailers aren't alarmed by what could actually be a very sad cry for help; if you ask them, spending money in a futile attempt to attain happiness for a fleeting instant is... fun!

"Post-bar, inhibitions can be impacted, and that can cause shopping, and hopefully healthy impulse buying," said Andy Page, the president of Gilt Groupe, an online retailer that is adding more sales starting at 9 p.m. to respond to high traffic then - perhaps some of it by shoppers under the influence.

On the other hand, barring a drinking problem or ensuing financial hardship, drunken shopping can be a welcome break from the drudgery of everyday life. I went through a strong phase in mid-2010 when I was working for a bank and hated it, but loved after work drinking followed by a happy session browsing a website that sold gently used DVDs. The following week, I'd always be surprised and delighted by my drunken self's good taste. Field of Dreams! Lola Rennt! The Birdcage! All three Indiana Jones films! Eventually, though, I ran out of movies that I cared to own. Some purchases aren't such good uses of resources, either; just ask the guy the Times interviewed who sloppily bought a $10,000 motorcycle tour of New Zealand, or the ex boyfriend of many moons ago who once purchased Billy Joel's entire catalog while under the influence.


The spendy and the drunk prefer online shopping because liquid courage doesn't translate so well to the brick-and-mortar of traditional stores. While stumbling into Target after three martinis can lead to embarrassment and possibly arrest, the same can't be said for typing a-m-a-z-o-n dot c-o-m one very carefully pecked keystroke at a time. And experts warn that drunken shopping can lead to overspending, which can lead to being broke, which can lead to feeling more depressed. Just ask the half dozen or so VHS tapes of the low budget 1988 version of The Chronicles of Narnia that appeared on my desk one unexpected weekday in 2009. My VCR doesn't even work.

Online Retailers Home In On A New Demographic [NYT]