These shoppers have a 'love/hate relationship' with Amazon but can't stop spending -- as much as $2,000 a month

Erin McCarthy, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

Rebecca Wadsworth has a “love/hate relationship” with Amazon Prime.

She and her husband spend between $1,000 and $2,000 a month on Amazon, charging it to their Amazon credit card. They buy a wide range of items — body wash, shampoo, vitamins, dog food, even clothing and shoes — and packages arrive at their Philadelphia home several times a week.

For recurring purchases, they have opted into “subscribe and save,” which automatically sends customers refills of frequently used items to their door before they run out. They’ve priced out what it would cost to buy the same items at other retailers like CVS, Target or Wegmans, she said, and it’s usually cheaper on Amazon.

At the same time, “I truly hate it. If I could get off Amazon, it would be great,” she said. “I hate supporting Amazon and (founder) Jeff Bezos in any way shape or form.”

Amazon and its Prime subscription service, which costs $15 a month (or $140 a year) and comes with faster shipping speeds at no additional charge, have fundamentally changed the way consumers shop online. Industry experts have coined this shift “the Amazon effect.” Consumers now expect a quick and easy shopping experience, with ultrafast delivery speeds, real-time package tracking, on-demand customer service, and flexible, free returns.

Customers aren’t necessarily busier than they used to be, but they have gotten used to the convenience, especially since the pandemic, said Peter Fader, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The isolating early months of COVID-19 led to a surge in Amazon Prime subscribers, and prompted Amazon to raise prices.


“We’ve just acclimated to the ‘Click and get it out of your mind and just have it show up’” mentality, said Fader, who researches consumer behavior to forecast shopping patterns.

The adjustment has occurred even as some customers worry about the ethical impact of their shopping habits. Owned by one of the world’s richest people, billionaire Jeff Bezos, Amazon has been criticized amid reports that it has overworked employees, polluted the environment, and retaliated against workers’ organizing efforts. The company was also sued last year by the Federal Trade Commission, which accused Amazon of running an unfair monopoly that pushes out competitors, and some local mom-and-pop stores say online shopping has undoubtedly hurt their business.

In a statement to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Amazon spokesperson Steve Kelly said, “We’re proud to offer an outstanding shopping experience with the best combination of a wide selection of quality products, low prices and fantastic deals, fast delivery, and a range of Prime member benefits. Our commitment to serving customers while also providing good jobs and creating a positive impact on the communities we serve, are not mutually exclusive.”

Kelly highlighted $17 per hour starting pay, health care, and prepaid tuition for employees in Philadelphia, and electric delivery vehicles that are being rolled out in the region and across the country.


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