LifestyleChristmas Shopping: Should You Buy Online or Shop In-Store?

Christmas Shopping: Should You Buy Online or Shop In-Store?

Most people have a preferred method of getting their shopping done at Christmas time. But, while some people choose to shop only in stores, while others choose to shop only online, there are pros and cons to both approaches. Here’s how to get the best of both worlds.

Benefits of Shopping Online

One of the greatest benefits of online shopping is that you avoid the crowds. This is a major reason why people opt for online shopping. If you value convenience, online shopping is probably the best experience you’ll have – especially for Cyber Monday deals. You won’t be standing in line, maneuvering your way around other shoppers, and fighting for the last “gotta have-it” toy of the year.

You can also shop whenever you want. It’s 7AM on a Saturday and you’re too lazy to get dressed and go out? No problem. You can hop online and buy 10 gifts in your slippers while drinking your morning cup of joe.

Compare prices with a click. You can’t do this in the store. OK, you can get online if you have reception, and check against online stores. But, when shopping online, this is a major advantage that typically isn’t associated with in-store shopping.

Hopping from one store to the next is as simple as clicking the tab to the right of where you are now.

One last benefit is that many people find that prices for things are lower online because online stores aren’t paying the overhead that physical stores do.

Benefits of Shopping In the Store

Of course, there are people that will tell you there’s nothing like shopping in-store for everything. One of the biggest benefits of shopping in the store is that you get to physically see the products, pick them up and handle them, before you make your purchase.

Sometimes, with online products, you don’t really know what you’re getting. But, if you can walk into a Bed Bath & Beyond and pick up a pillow, touch some of the sateen sheets, or play with a gadget, before you buy it, you sort of know what you’re getting yourself into and you probably won’t be making nearly as many bad purchases.

You won’t have to pay for shipping either. This is a major gripe people have with buying stuff online. Any way you slice it, it costs money to get from the supplier to your door, and that added cost can erase the benefit of the lower online price tags.

Finally, you get your gifts instantly. Some of us really need that instant gratification. And, if you’re doing last-minute shopping, you can’t afford to wait for something to arrive in the mail.

Disadvantages of Both, And How to Benefit From a Proper Mix

A major disadvantage to buying only online or only in the store is that you’re limiting yourself when you stick to one strategy. A better way to approach Christmas shopping is to divide it up intelligently.

For brand name products that you already have experience with, you’re probably safe with online purchases. If you’re not sure about a product, go into a store and handle it. If you still like it, don’t be afraid to purchase it online if you’re saving money by doing so.

Buy stocking-stuffers in-store. These are usually small items that don’t cost much, and shipping would probably amount to more than the value of the gift.

Big items that would need to be shipped freight, buy in the store. For lightweight tech gadgets, it’s almost always a better idea to buy online.

Betty Gill has spent plenty of time behind the counter in her career and loves to share her retail tactics and insights online. She is a regular contributor for a variety of shopping and lifestyle websites.

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