LONDON: Online retailers may be wasting their time in emailing consumers who have abandoned their shopping carts as new research shows that many are simply engaged in the virtual equivalent of window shopping and have no intention of ever completing purchases.

The practice has been termed "bagging" by US shopping analyst Jenna Ward, who carried out research in the UK for voucher site My Favourite Voucher Codes, polling 2,000 people during the last two months of 2014.

She found that 70% of women aged 18-40 had "bagged" at least once in the past year with 10% bagging at least once a week.

Just 10% of men within the same age group had tried the trend, primarily because they are less interested in shopping. But male respondents also indicated they lacked the willpower to avoid completing the purchase and so ended up buying everything they put in their online basket.

"Bagging is the retail equivalent of Pinterest," said Ward. "For a lot of people, the pleasure comes from researching and browsing different products. They can play at having a new winter wardrobe or completely redesigning a bedroom."

The psychology of online shopping also differs from in-store shopping, where the full extent of one's bill may not be apparent until reaching the checkout.

"Most people are too embarrassed to admit to overspending in public, so don't say anything or put anything back," Ward explained. "Online you can abandon thousands of pounds worth of goods with a click of a button."

Julian House, the founder of My favourite Voucher Codes, added that "bagging is therapeutic – it allows everyone to feel like a millionaire, as long as they don't end up pressing the buy button".

The research also found that bagging started early. Children as young as ten were engaged in the practice as parents felt it had educational benefits, helping them to how much things cost and how to work to a budget.

Older consumers were less likely to bother with bagging – only 20% of people in their fifties and sixties had ever bagged – partly because they tend to only shop online for what they really want.

Data sourced from Bloomberg Businessweek; additional content by Warc staff