Shop online, or make a mall run? This can be a difficult decision when both options have their own pros and cons. Just over half of all Americans (51%) say that they prefer to shop online. But the mall isn’t quite dead, either. Three-quarters of Americans visit a mall at least once a month.
So what’s a shopper to do? Well, there are times when hopping online to make a purchase is the convenient choice, and other instances where it’s fun to visit a store in person.
Here’s a look at online shopping versus in-store shopping, and the benefits and downsides of each:
The Good and Bad of Online Shopping
There’s an old video from the 1960s depicting the household of the future showing a woman browsing dresses on a computer screen. It seems online shopping is a prediction from back in the day that came true. Within seconds, we can be scrolling through our favorite retailer’s site and making a purchase in just a few clicks.
But online shopping has its limitations, too. Here’s a list of the positives and negatives of buying online.
Advantages of Shopping Online
- It’s Convenient
You don’t have to wait for an online store to “open” since it’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can shop online in the middle of the night and in your pajamas if you like. And the actual online checkout process can be much faster than waiting in line at a register.
- It’s Accessible from Any Device
No matter whether you use a laptop, desktop, or mobile device, you can shop online. And many stores offer downloadable apps that will save your shopping preferences or alert you about sales.
- It Saves Gas and Helps You Avoid Traffic
If you hate the idea of dealing with traffic on route to the store or with crowds at the mall, shopping online gives you an out from all that.
- You Can Order Items Not Available in Stores
Many retailers offer online exclusives where an item is only available on their website, and not in stores. But oftentimes a shopper can score an item that has limited or no availability at stores in their area. This helps you avoid the disappointment of driving to a physical store only to discover the item you want is not in stock.
Sometimes limited editions of products can only be found online.
- Shipping Is Often Free and Returns Are Easy
Free shipping is usually an automatic perk for orders over a certain amount.
Not happy with your purchase for any reason? Most retailers will provide you with a prepaid shipping label to return or exchange your order. Simply affix it to the box or bag and drop it off at the nearest post office.
Disadvantages of Shopping Online
- You Can’t Try on an Item
Shopping online is often shopping blind. It’s impossible to know if a clothing or footwear item will fit until you receive it in person. Likewise, a product may appear different in person than how it looks on a screen.
- No Physical Interaction with Salespeople
Many retailers give online shoppers a chat box to ask questions about merchandise or receive sizing help. However, they can be slow and cumbersome to use. Sometimes it’s easier to get a salesperson’s opinion in person.
- You May Have to Pay for Shipping and Returns
For orders under a certain amount, you will have to pay for shipping. The costs go up if you need your order fast. Sometimes you may have to pay return shipping or go through the hassle of returning the item at a store.
- Websites Do Crash
Websites do go down from time to time or your internet connectivity can be affected by power outages. In these instances, shopping online is impossible.
The Good and Bad of In-Store Shopping
Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of online shopping, here are the advantages and downsides of in-store shopping.
Pros of In-Store Shopping
- You Get to See the Item in Person
Perhaps the biggest benefit of in-store shopping is getting to see, touch, and try on an item in person. Even a virtual try-on feature on a store’s website can’t match the experience of trying on clothing in person.
- You Get to Own the Item Immediately
Buying merchandise in-store means you get to enjoy it immediately instead of waiting for it to be shipped to your home.
- Malls Are Adding Entertainment
People love to go to a mall for the entire experience. The trend in mall development is the addition of entertainment and pampering services. This means it’s no longer unusual to encounter movie theaters, manicurists, game arcades, and hair salons in a mall.
- It’s Fun to Visit a Mall
The sights and sounds at a mall can be an enjoyable experience. It’s fun to plan a day around a mall visit, stopping to have lunch or coffee and window shop. It also allows for a much more social experience, as you shop with friends or interact with salespeople.
Cons of In-Store Shopping
- Dealing with Traffic and Other People
Going to a mall or store sometimes means dealing with traffic and crowds, particularly during the holiday season. This can make a shopping excursion stressful.
- Safety Concerns
Although it’s rare, mishaps can occur at the mall. Elevator and escalator accidents do happen, according to this Dallas premises liability lawyer. Emergencies can cause panic in a crowd at a shopping center, leading to injuries.
- Unavailability of an Item
Sometimes an item runs out or is no longer available in your size by the time you get to the store. This can be disappointing, and feel like a wasted trip.
Which Is Better: Online or In-Store Shopping?
So which is the better option, online or in-store shopping? The truth is there is no right or wrong answer.
Everyone has their own personal shopping preferences and habits. We personally believe either method is great, so why not take turns alternating between shopping online and shopping at a store?
Here at Broke & Chic, we love helping our readers look and feel fabulous on a budget. Whether you love shopping online or in stores, why not catch up with our latest fashion posts to find out what’s trending right now?