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 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 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 Amazon.ca.
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 Amazon.ca and Walmart.ca for example are Canadian sites and Amazon.com and Walmart.com 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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