Christmas Shopping – Online v the High Street!

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Woman shopping online with a tablet and a credit card

The online shopping revolution continues to dominate the retail industry at Christmas. Clothes shoppers can now even ‘try before they buy’ online with virtual mannequins that allow them to look how items will look on their body shape.

Online shopping has come a long way since the first World Wide Web server and browser, created by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990, opened for commercial use in 1991.

The Office for National Statistics reported: In October 2016, the quantity of goods bought (volume) in the retail industry was estimated to have increased by 7.4% compared with October 2015; all store types showed growth with the largest contribution coming from non-store retailing. This is the highest rate of growth since April 2002.

However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says that without a boost in online shopping we would have bought less from shops last month than in the same time last year.

holidays, x-mas, sale and people concept - happy young asian woman in winter clothes with shopping bags over christmas tree lights background

The main arguments for online shopping include: buying from the comfort of your own home without having to venture out in the cold, avoiding the Christmas crowds and not having to lug heavy bags home.

The cons however can include: clothes not fitting properly, difficult return processes and making sure someone is home for the delivery.

We once ordered a tablet online which the courier attempted to deliver three times outside of the hours we had agreed when no-one was home. Eventually the said tablet was returned to a warehouse 30 miles away from our address which caused no end of hassle to get to before Christmas Day.

By buying all your gifts online, however, are you missing out on the festivities on the high street?

Kathryn Freeman, social media manager at Eventful Stays says: “While you can’t beat the convenience of online shopping in the run up to Christmas, you can miss out on that little bit of festive cheer shopping on the high street can bring (when you aren’t stuck queuing at a checkout of course).”

Going back to the 80’s online shopping is not actually that much different to catalogue shopping, although you would get short thrift nowadays if you asked to pay for your goods at 30p a week for the next 12 months, as was the norm 30 years ago.

Closeup on christmas shopping bags in hand of smiling young woman

With talk of drones delivering goods in the not too distant future, Amazon seems to have taken the bull by the proverbial horns when it comes to perfecting the art of online shopping deliveries.

Previously if you were in a hurry to buy something and did not want to wait until the next day, you would have little option but to go into town. Amazon Prime Now enables shoppers in London to receive orders within an hour, which is a huge hit for high street retailers.

If Amazon can deliver products in an hour, to a destination of your choice, then suddenly the internet becomes the most convenient form of shopping. This new service is expected to be available in other cities within the coming months.

Personally, if I am buying clothes I prefer to touch, try on and feel them in a retail store before buying. I have made some horrendous mistakes buying clothes online and return policies are often not straightforward.

Another reason that the high street is competing more strongly with the internet is that price differentials between online and offline are beginning to narrow significantly.

Whether you choose to do your Christmas shopping online or you prefer the high street, the best time to bag a bargain is in the sales starting on Boxing Day …. If you can just wait until then!