When COVID-19 lockdowns started in March and brick-and-mortar stores became mostly off-limits, consumers flocked to shop online, driving a monumental growth spurt in online spending. According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales grew more than 30% between the first and second quarters of 2020; in the second quarter of 2020, Americans spent $211.5 billion online. Though panic buying and other consumer trends — like spending more time on social media — were largely responsible for the surge in online spending, e-retailers were quick to pull out tricks — or dark patterns — to lure shoppers into spending more.
“A dark pattern is a design practice that is intentionally created to mislead a user or have them do something that they wouldn’t normally do,” said Tyler Andersen, senior product designer at ConsumerTrack.
While many of these dark patterns — like cross-selling and targeted ads — are not