COVID-19 and the online shopping phenomenon


By Marcus Alvarez
October 4, 2021

Online shopping is a popular trend in the United States and has accelerated since the beginning of COVID-19.

Photo by Marcus Alvarez.

In this digital era, and the rise of social media, companies have made it easier for consumers to purchase items online. Clothes, food, books, toys and more are just a button or click away. Targeted ads on popular social media apps are inching their way into the lives of everyone in the United States. Consumers now deal with the dilemma of either going to the store or hopping onto their electronics, and it’s seeming like it’s easier for more people to go online and buy anything than going to a crowded store to tediously wait in line.

Both Millenials and GenZ are so connected with their electronic devices that online shopping has solidified itself in our society. College students make up about 40% of all consumers. About an average of $60 billion is spent by students on everyday items and social media is one of the main catalysts for online shopping among younger generations, as ads and influencers target products to users.

Recent online order. Photo by Marcus Alvarez.

Senior criminology and sociology major, Ashley Vagnoni, agreed that online shopping has become increasingly popular. “With the introduction of Amazon and various other popular sites, online shopping is more convenient than regular shopping.”

Cabrini students are among the large population of college students online shopping. Last year, during the pandemic, many stores were closed or had short hours of service.

“I have definitely online shopped more in the last year and a half than I have ever before. Since many stores were closed during the height of the pandemic, online shopping made it easier to still purchase items that I needed,” Vagnoni said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the economy. Brick-and-mortar stores struggle to survive in a sea of algorithms, ads and convenience even more now than before the pandemic.

“I have noticed that I do tend to look online to shop as my first option more often, but then I usually stop and just make a list and go out to the store. In my eyes, it’s cheaper to go out because then you don’t have to pay shipping or other fees that can get taxed on.” Cabrini 2021 graduate, Alyssa Kuryluk, said as she sways away from the concept of online shopping.

To survive today, retailers and business owners must acclimate themselves to the new online shopping society. The problem with this solution is that some small businesses and retailers do not have the resources to support themselves, and overall COVID-19 has already destroyed so many businesses. There is still hope for them to survive the pandemic and online shopping industry.

Cabrini mail room inside Widener Center. Photo by Marcus Alvarez.

Nextdoor conducted a survey, which resulted in 72% of people responding that they will visit local businesses after the pandemic. Kuryluk said that even though she online shops during the pandemic, she prefers to go to the store in person. The key to survival is tracking and observing consumer behavior patterns and using them as an advantage.

Online shopping is not an evil convenience; it provides a safe, viable option for people to acquire items or necessities. Cabrini University offers mail and package services at their mailroom, located in the lower level of the Widener Center. Students can pick up mail or packages at any time during mailroom hours and will receive an e-mail notification when their packages have arrived. More information is available on Cabrini’s website, so that all students are aware that they have this service.

Mailroom e-mail notification. Screenshot by Marcus Alvarez.

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Marcus Alvarez

Hello, my name is Marcus Alvarez! I'm currently studying at New York University pursuing a journalism career. At Cabrini, I served as a reporter in my second year at Cabrini and became Managing Editor in my fifth semester. As a journalist now and in the future, I hope to cover social justice issues and investigate problems facing my community. A fun fact about me is that I am a dual citizen of the United States and Australia.

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