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Online retailers' latest target: The tipsy

Online retailers are starting to cater to consumers who loosen up with a glass of pinot and then buy, buy, buy.

There's something about a fine Lebanese Cinsault or a luscious Napa Cabernet that brings out a little more of your true self.

After a couple of glasses, you like other people more. You even like yourself more, which is something online retailers suddenly appear to appreciate.

An intoxicating article in the New York Times suggests that those who sell things online are sensing that there's a big, um, untapped market out there: the sozzled.

Yes, the tipsy, the slightly inebriated, the positively pissed as a newt (as the English would have it)--all seem to translate their loosened inhibitions into loosened purse strings.

CC Gromgull/Flickr

I am sure some of you will never have allowed yourselves to become so loosened. However, there are surely few who haven't, late one evening after a little Miner Family Viognier, ordered some notebooks with drawings of Tolstoy on the front or these lovely Folie a Deux purses with the antler handles.

As the Times would have it--and as the experience of several of my friends would corroborate--one of the most delightful things about drunken online shopping is that, quite often, come morning you've forgotten even doing it.

So the delight when a large parcel lands on your doorstep is only slightly tempered by the impact on your credit-card bill.

The Times quotes Andy Page, President of Gilt Groupe as saying: "Post-bar, inhibitions can be impacted, and that can cause shopping, and hopefully healthy impulse buying."

Who could not love his use of the word "healthy"? He doesn't want men to buy bustiers, size small, unless they know precisely what they're doing. He certainly doesn't want too much pressure, surely, on his returns system.

eBay, too, confessed that it sees the evening hours of 6.30 to 10.30 as its prime-time buying time.

If all this suggests that tipple-time is shopping time, I have one small issue. Here I sit, before 9 in the morning and I have already received several e-mails from online stores, begging me to view today's merchandise.

Yes you, Prive, MyHabit, Ideeli, and Vente-Privee (for some reason, Gilt Groupe's e-mails always fail to get to me.)

Why are they sending them so early in the morning? Many of us are barely recovering from last night's highly sustainable Honig Cabernet Sauvignon. Shouldn't these e-mails waft to us at around, say, 6pm?

By that point they'll feel like a treat, a personal message, a delivery from the mundanities of the day, just as we're popping the cork on something with the bouquet of peonies and the relaxing qualities of a stroll through the French Laundry garden.

If we really are living in a real-time world, online retailers should surely capture us as close as possible to the moment of truth, rather than have us search them out as the alcohol begins to fiddle with our co-ordination.

If we have to do too much work when we're drunk, we might end up on sites that sell us used wrestling gear or discarded puppy hair.

Now, about those golden platform boots that arrived yesterday. I must say, I certainly don't remember ordering them....