Holiday Planning

Christmas Shopping: Online or In-store?


Did you know there are only 40 shopping days left until Christmas? With Christmas being not too far away the rush to get one’s Christmas shopping finished begins.

Whether you plan to pack your suitcase full of gifts and jet off on holidays to see the family or shop right at home you can easily access shopping at your fingertips without stepping  foot out the door.

While some people prefer to shop only in stores there are many people who will choose to do the majority if not all of their shopping online.

Tablets, smartphones and free wi-fi access offered in places like Tim Hortons and McDonald’s, have made online shopping even more convenient than just being able to shop from the comfort of your home.

Though convenient, online shopping may not always be the best the choice when it comes to your finances and your Christmas budget.


online-shoppingOnline shopping


Online shopping allows you to shop from the comfort of your home or really anywhere you are able to gain online access.

Shopping online you avoid having to deal with overworked sales people, waiting in long lineups or having to drive around aimlessly looking for a parking spot.

Shopping online in most cases can be done 24 hours around the clock.

I like to be sleeping at 2 am but hey if you are up and have some online shopping to do, you can!

More product options may also be available to you as shelf space isn’t limited to what the individual stores can put out as well possibly more options in the colour and/or size of your desired purchase.

It is also much easier to avoid impulse buying when shopping online. Products may be found at a cheaper price as not having salespeople to pay to sell the product will impact the cost. Product reviews are something you can always count on when shopping online.

There are a lot of very opinionated people and self-proclaimed experts out there who love to leave reviews whether they are good or bad. Though some people may go overboard and the reviews may seem excessive at times product reviews are a great tool to use when making decisions to buy online.

Google any product and you’re guaranteed to find thousands of reviews from past customers describing their experience with the company, shipping process and the product itself.

in-store-shoppingIn-store shopping


In-store shopping especially around the holidays can be crowded and noisy.

Choosing to shop in-store means that you are limited to shopping when the stores are open, chance waiting in long lines, and we all know that finding a parking spot during holiday shopping season is always fun isn’t it?

A benefit of in-store shopping is that you have the opportunity to physically touch, hold, try on a size, or even possibly be given a demonstration of how the product works.

A common trend lately is under-staffed stores which means you are more likely to find shelves that may be cleared as there is insufficient store staff to keep on top of merchandising the products from the warehouse to the floor.

On the other hand if they are properly staffed you have in most cases someone who can tell you first hand and in-person the benefits or drawbacks of what you are looking to buy and may be able to offer other ideas.

Commission based employees often have added incentives and bonuses this time of year so you may find yourself dealing with salespeople who are a little more pushy than usual.

Price matching where you are able to get the same great deal at one store in another and a potential further discount to beat the competitor’s price is not just for grocery items and may be available to you based on what stores you shop in. Unlike online shopping where you have to wait for your purchase to be delivered you get to leave the store with the product in hand.


The cost of free shipping


We all love the word free and companies know this and use it in their marketing strategies. Free shipping sounds great but be sure to look into whether or not you have to make a minimum purchase to obtain that said ‘free shipping’. An example of this, orders placed over $25.00 are eligible for free shipping at

Buying something you may not have ordered otherwise just to meet the minimum threshold is any easy way for companies to sell more products and for you to spend more of your hard-earned money.

If you cannot meet the threshold without buying something you don’t need than maybe consider going in-store to make your purchase. Free shipping also often means the cheapest shipping option for the company, if you are hoping for your purchase to arrive within a few days rather than a few weeks, free shipping likely isn’t an option for you.

Also keep in mind that and for example are Canadian sites and and are American sites and shipping costs will be affected by this. Make sure you are shopping on the appropriate site.

What is best for you?

Truthfully, shopping online is probably the better option in terms of product selection and information availability and depending on shipping costs you are likely to find  better prices than in-store.

Shopping in-store and online both have their advantages and disadvantages. Setting a spending budget and doing some research will benefit you no matter which way you choose to shop.

Remember price matching if you are shopping in-store and like a grocery shop plan, make a list, set your spending limit and stay within it.

If you like to do your Christmas shopping last-minute then in-store shopping is the definitely the way to go.

If you choose to shop online take into consideration shipping times, shopping earlier than later will allow your purchases to be delivered sooner and avoid being caught up or even lost in the holiday rush.


Black Friday and Cyber Monday


In recent years, Canada’s retail market has been trying to keep more of our Christmas shopping in Canada by adopting the American shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday is held on the first Friday following the American Thanksgiving. With Thanksgiving and Halloween having passed many refer to this as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Stores typically open earlier than other shopping days and the Black Friday deals are usually worth the wait of waiting in line if you choose to brave the crowds.

Working in the retail environment for a few years I have seen line-ups starting 10-12 hours or more before the stores plan to open and the lines wrapped around the buildings.

Black Friday this year will be November 29. Many retailers will intentionally not offer these deals online in anticipation of Cyber Monday.
For those of us, including myself who do not care for the crowds, the long waits in line and all the commotion that comes with some door-breaking deals, Cyber Monday may be when you try to score some discounted Christmas gifts. Cyber Monday takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Cyber Monday was created to persuade people to shop online. Cyber Monday this year will be December 2. Though the deals are offered online and you avoid having to wait in line the deals may still be limited to the number of each product offered so if you are going to shop online shop early!

Do you plan to take advantage of any Black Friday or Cyber Monday Deals? Do you prefer to shop online or in-store?


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  1. Thanks for the insight!
    I enjoyed reading the article a lot, and it helped me think about my future shopping!
    I also gave my opinion:
    Overall, I think that there should not be a controversy over shopping in-store or online. To tell you the truth, it is just buying things with money. However, I prefer to shop online, because there is a larger variety of things to buy as well as free shipping. It definitely saves me money on gas every month. But don’t be concerned of shopping in-store, because there are always employees available for questions, price match, and sometimes even additional discounts.

  2. Great article thank you! I recently posted an article about the coming holiday season, and the shopping trends that have made things so exciting for us in the retail industry. Please check out the article!

  3. I no longer shop for Christmas at all but, when I did, I strove to support small local businesses and individual artists and artisans. I continue to do this for the gift shopping I still do, (birthdays, weddings, baby gifts, etc.) because doing so helps to build a stronger local economy and that local economy, in its turn helps to support me. If at all possible, I avoid big box stores and name brand, mass manufactured products. The only exception to this rule that springs readily to mind are books. Even then, I prefer to seek out titles from Canadian publishing houses, written by Canadian authors.

    I used to work for a Canadian eCommerce company. They’re still in business, manufacturing titanium wedding and engagement rings and selling them through their website. (I can say with some pride that they do beautiful work and have some quite exceptional designs. The company was (and is) quite small. For the longest time, I was their entire customer service department! The service was, and continues to be, very personalized. It was very satisfying work, ensuring that each ring was made to the exact specifications of the customer, and watching the products being made to order. Because of that experience, I do support small on line vendors like my former employer ,and like the many talented artisans who sell their wares through Etsy. I don’t shop on line with giant corporations unless I cannot access what I need any other way.

  4. I try very hard to have any instore shopping done by the first of December. We have done both over the last few years as online shopping has gotten more popular. We will go online for Chapters, Amazon, Future shop, Staples and Sears. For all the talk of how internet savvy hubby claims to be I’m the one to do all the online shopping and setting up of accounts. This means that I’m the one that knows the passwords to these places…. a very good thing! A place like Staples just ordering ink cartridges for the printer is enough to send us over the limit for free shipping, but hubby will still have himself a nice look around the site to see if there is anything else we need( read…he sees and wants). I have yet to go for any of the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals… just haven’t got there yet. Our daughter has friends that make a weekend of it for Black Friday deals going over the border.
    I have had to wait to do the in store shopping a lot of years until Hubby got his Dec holiday pay. By the time that money shows up I have my lists in hand and I’m ready to go. Hopefully I can leave him at home as he does slow me down. I want to go in, get what ever and get out…the faster the better. He wants to shop…….:(…
    I have some points to work with this year and a gift card coming that I will be using for shopping.
    Parking can be a pain in the backside indeed. I drive an extended cab full size pick up truck, not all that easy to park at the best of times. I just head for the far side of the lot, knowing I’m not going to find anything big enough near the doors so why frustrate myself. Everyone is so concerned with getting a spot up close I have no problem finding a spot!!!
    Another great article Katrina!!!!

  5. I try and get some Christmas shopping done before the craze starts happening in mid December. Last year I bought most of my gifts for family online and it worked out great; I recommend ASOS for clothing and accessories because they don’t have a minimum on their worldwide shipping!

  6. I don’t Christmas shop but when I am in the US… I love the hustle bustle of Black Friday. I am sure not going out to line up in the middle of the night though. Cyber Monday is right up my alley for items that I may “want” but don’t need. 😀

  7. I’m not yet comfortable with shopping online so I always head off to the store to buy something, but I do like that you mentioned online shopping prevents impulse buying – sometimes I give in to impulses and end up spending more than I like, but I guess when you’re shopping online, you can’t window shop and buy whatever meets your fancy.

  8. I would say I do a mixture of both. I also try to pick-up things year round. I don’t mind shopping in stores but the closer it gets to the holiday (40 days is way too soon!) the less I enjoy it. As you said, it’s so busy and crowded. It really takes the fun out of it. That’s when I definitely prefer online shopping. Plus, I find it easier to comparison shop when you don’t have to run from store to store.

  9. I did most of my shopping for Christmas already – i would say 2/3 online and 1/3 in store. I took advantage of the Quiksilver family and friends discount last weekend, and got clothing for the men in my family for 30-50% off, which was pretty sweet.
    I really dislike crowds and line ups so try and take advantage of deals outside black Friday and the mad Christmas rush

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