Shopping online vs. at the store: you decide

December 16, 2009 8:24:43 PM PST
There is still time to shop online and get gifts delivered in time for Christmas. But maybe you're someone who prefers to shop in a store instead of on the computer. So which way is better?

The streets are bustling with holiday shoppers, but there are plenty more who are not amongst the crowds. Instead, they're on their computers, buying online.

A new survey shows we'll buy roughly one-third of holiday gifts on the Internet this season. But rest of our buying will be done the old-fashioned way.

So which is better? Browsing online or in the store? Not surprisingly in Union Square, the brick and mortar experience was the heavy favorite.

"There's something about looking for something and finding the hard to find items in the store and just that excitement versus online, you only get a basic description, you can't hold it in your hands, you can't sort of play with it and know if you really want it," said shopper Amanda Solorio.

"My waistline changes so fast it's you get it and you have to send it back so it's better if I just go in," said shopper Andrew Zamberlin.

"Things Downtown I find are unique, things you can't find online," said Karen Gardner. "We saw a golf-club bottle opener. I never would have seen that online but there it was."

But there are those who say you can't beat the quick convenience of the Internet.

"It's a lot easier, you avoid the crowds and the stress and the parking and all the other stressful stuff when you're Christmas shopping," said Eunice Lee.

"I do most of my shopping online because of work and it's hard to go out," said shopper Elena Spight.

"I like to start off by looking online first especially when it comes to electronics, because there are definitely some good deals out there," said Lee.

And many online retailers are offering free shipping and gift wrapping to lure customers.

Wall Street Journal finance reporter Mary Pilon says shoppers often use online deals to bargain at the store.

"They'll see an online offer for a really low price and bring it into the store and say can you match this, this is what the online retailer is offering," she said.

The pros and cons were about even for both approaches.

With online, there's the convenience of shopping at any hour. You avoid long lines, parking hassles, and it's easy to surf many websites to find deals.

In-store lets you try on clothes or view items close up. You can try out electronics before you invest, grab a last minute gift and get personalized service.

But something you can't get online is the festive atmosphere of downtown shopping, although if you're online, there's an option on YouTube.

If you are shopping online, tomorrow is free shipping day. Order something online from one of 500 major retailers and get free shipping and arrival by Christmas Eve.


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