A drink or two, that's all. Maybe you're out letting off some steam after work or out for a Saturday night on the town with some bar-hopping pals. Then, before you know it, zoinks! You're on the phone or computer, hell-bent to tell that ex or crush, or ex-crush, know exactly what's on your fuzzy, uninhibited mind. These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find people of legal age (and perhaps others) who don't know what it's like to be on the sending or receiving end of one of these intoxication mishaps.

Now say that facepalm-worthy moment doesn't happen right away. Say it comes a few days later, when you open your door to a delivery man holding concrete evidence of your latest boozefest. You look at this purchase you made in that brain-fogged moment of weakness, and wonder what the heck you were thinking. (A trampoline?? Really? One-click shopping is soooo evil…)

While infinitely less embarrassing, drunk shopping can also be much more costly. Some brick-and-mortar stores have known this for a while, with special wine and cheese shopping events or exclusive cocktail parties for pre-opening sales. Now electronic retailers are catching on to this, thanks to data that tracks peak shopping times throughout the day.

Turns out, there has been a rise in nighttime shopping in general, says ChannelAdvisor, which operates e-retail shopping sites for hundreds of businesses. While its e-commerce sites hit peak shopping traffic around 8 PM, orders are coming in later and later, with 9 to midnight orders increasing over previous years. They're not the only one — purveyors and e-commerce sites like QVC, eBay and Gilt Groupe, among others, are noticing the trend too. In some cases, retailers' email marketing is even timed to go at night, when we're all presumably more relaxed after a hard day, possibly imbibing in a little tipple or two.

"Post-bar, inhibitions can be impacted, and that can cause shopping, and hopefully healthy impulse buying," said Andy Page, president of Gilt Groupe. With online shopping and mobile apps that offer digital shoppers an easy means of browsing and buying, Gilt is fleshing out its sales with more starting at 9 pm, to cater to this crowd.

E-commerce has been around for a while, so it can make you wonder why this behavior seems to be taking off now. Well, this is only a guess, but with more people packing smartphones than ever (and more sites allowing for one-click shopping ease), I'd wager that all those shopping apps and optimized e-commerce sites can only help enable the inebriated spending. And when it comes to mobile commerce, we probably ain't seen nothin' yet. Experts believe that mobile buying is poised to skyrocket over the next year, meaning there will be much more purchasing power in those drunken hands before their designated drivers even reach for the keys.

Personally, I'm not a fan of drunken anything, be it calling, texting, shopping or worse. But let's be real — more retailers are increasingly cashing in on this phenomenon, so why not be savvy about it? Even if you're a teetotaler, there's nothing stopping you from being extra aware of evening sales announcements and specials on some droolworthy products.

Have you ever bought something online or via phone while, erm, toasted? What happened? Did you regret it, or did you wind up happy to kick your inhibitions to the curb and go for it? And what's the nuttiest thing you ever purchased — whether under the influence or not?

[via The New York Times]