To buy or not to buy? Students turn to online shopping amidst quarantine

Students talk about how the pandemic is affecting their daily shopping life.

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Many students turn to online shopping as malls and stores close down due to coronavirus.

By Sandra Sanchez, Staff Writer

With the escalation of covid-19 and the subsequent Stay-at-Home order issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom, almost all malls and stores closed down, leaving shoppers to turn to online shopping.

For student entrepreneur Alex Merino, this was an opportunity to promote his online business of reselling shoes. 

“There are going to be more people buying stuff now due to the pandemic,” Merino said. “More people are at home, most stores are closed so they’re forced to head to the online marketplace.” 

Merino stated that his sales have increased thanks to covid-19. 

As his business grows, Merino finds himself on the other side of the transaction, buying more and more online goods since the start of quarantine. He reasoned that the ease of buying from the comfort of his own home made him shop online more.

Merino is not alone in this surge of online shopping. From video game consoles to beauty products, many students find themselves impulsively buying things off the web to provide them with an activity to pass time. 

“I shop online a lot because I have more money now since I don’t go out and I get really bored at home,” said Andres Silvestre

“Before I buy something I ask myself if I need it or not and I somehow always convince myself I need it,” said Silvestre.

April Casillas, on the other hand, hopes to use this free time to learn a new hobby and possibly start a new business. To start, she bought a Revel Dip Nail kit, a manicure nail kit, on Amazon.

“I’ve recently been doing my own nails and I bought it so I can learn how to do my nails,” she said. 

“My plan is to make some extra cash doing nails while attending college,” said Casillas.

The pandemic also doesn’t seem to put a limit on some students to buy the newest games to virtually connect with friends.

“I bought a Nintendo Switch out of impulse just so I can play Animal Crossing with my friends,” said Joan Baluyut.

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She also stated, however, that covid-19 has generally lessened her online shopping activity. 

“I haven’t been thinking about shopping online as much as I used to due to what’s going on at the moment,” she said. 

Online shopping for some, however, can turn into a necessity. With grocery stores getting packed resulting in lines of crowds outside, some have turned into buying groceries online. 

Supermarket chains like Walmart and Target introduced a delivery service for shoppers. People can also get groceries from some stores through Postmates, a food delivery app, or Instacart. Amazon also offers a similar service. 

As small businesses like Merino’s have experienced an increase in sales, big companies like Amazon have been benefiting from this quarantine as well. 

Amazon stocks have significantly since early March, based on NASDAQ charts, and further cemented Jeff Bezos as the wealthiest man in the world. 

While Bezos increases his net worth through this increase in online shopping, some families are forced to cut down on expenses. 

In addition to the Stay at Home order announced in March, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order to close all bars, gyms, and movie theaters. With these closures, many people have lost their source of income. 

People with jobs in retail, such as malls, shopping centers, theaters, and restaurants, are being laid off. 

While student Edna Gamarro’s parents still have their jobs, she expressed her fear in what the future holds as the covid-19 pandemic progresses. 

“Thankfully my parents still have their jobs. However, it’s a scary thing to know that tomorrow they might not have one,” said Gamarro

“We’re doing our best to save money just in case,” she added. 

Though the United States Postal Service is still running, its workers are among those who are at risk of losing their jobs. 

While the increase in online sales is causing shipping companies with increased volumes of mail to ship out, the USPS is said to be in danger of closing down by October, according to Postmaster General Megan Brennan in a statement. 

In March, Congress passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus check. In that bill, however, the Post Office, USPS, will only receive 13 billion, which is only enough to keep the service running until October. 

If the USPS were to shut down, it would be detrimental not only to its workers but also to businesses who are depending on online shopping right now, including Merino’s.

“The thing about this is other retail companies are also relying on USPS to sell their items. Personally, I would have to rely on other postal services, but if those closed down then it would really affect the market and many companies,” he said.

Personally, I would have to rely on other postal services, but if those closed down then it would really affect the market and many companies,”

— Alex Merino

Another concern is that shipping prices might increase.

Paola Lopez said, “I’m worried that shipping prices will increase. If it stays at this rate, many workers won’t be able to provide for their families.”

Many people have taken to Twitter asking others to send a text containing the word “USPS” to the number “50409,” a bot that will sign a petition to be sent to local representatives. 

Given this current situation, Casillas thinks that it is “more important” to look for the best deals and spend money more wisely online, making sure there’s enough money for groceries and essentials.