With the advancement of online shopping, there is no doubt many conveniences. For people that are super-busy not just with work, but after-work and weekend activities like helping kids with homework, recreational sports, side jobs, house chores, social commitments, etc., this is especially useful. And don’t forget more and more online merchants are offering incentives such as free shipping, promo codes, and rebates. Of course I’m busy too; maybe not super busy. And this may be one of the reasons why I like to and prefer the go to physical stores VS engaging in online shopping.
Don’t get me wrong, when I am in the market for purchasing big ticket, or even some small to medium ticket items, I almost always first Google the item, a similar item, SKU number or whatever is pertinent to find the best deal. But if there is a physical store available, I look forward to going there seeing how it works, how it feels, does it fit right, and test the quality and durability.
Groceries – In Store All The Way
There are a few items in which we buy the store brand and have never noticed a real difference (some paper products, cough and cold medicine, breakfast bars and other snacks). Not all online merchants will offer their specific store brands for all items. For Target, they have Archer Farms, for Walmart, they have Great Value, and for Weis they just call their store brands Weis, but I noticed for medicines the brand is called Top Care.
There are also in-store deals that you may not find online. For example, often times we’ll find at Walmart a loaf of French bread for a dollar! It’s so cheap because it will expire in the next 3-4 days, but we just plan our meals to use it the following day or day after. We stay disciplined because for several months now, we instituted a grocery list (also recommended by super-saver Clark Howard) that we maintain on our kitchen fridge. This old-fashioned yet still effective tool really helps us stay within budget. If there is a week where we can’t take the full list and get groceries as a family, I’ll just go by myself and get the essential items on there (i.e., bread, eggs, milk, and 2 kinds of chips – of course). 🙂
We see grocery shopping as an actual family activity we research items in the store together, look for the best prices, and mess around with each other at the store. So this isn’t really a chore for us as much as it is family time because that is essentially how we treat it. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing; you can find fun and recreation in almost anything. If we didn’t go grocery shopping once a week or two weeks, I’d probably be sitting on the couch watching a couple episodes of Lakefront Bargain Hunt on HGTV thinking why can’t I get a lake house. At the same time my 6-year old may be glued to his tablet. So going out to get groceries allows him to move around, learn about products, and help with putting things in the cart and on the belt and paying the cashier, although he never wants to use his own money. 🙂
Savings on Retail Clothing & Home Furnishings
Discount Brand Name Stores are becoming more and more popular. These include Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Ross and Rugged Warehouse. On the weekends whenever we visited the lines are definitely longer than regular department stores. These stores are not as organized as department stores and it may take a few minutes to find what you need. Or you may not find it at all. But if you do, chances are, the price will be pretty reasonable. The problem is these stores don’t have an online presence. I suppose it’s to keep their costs low, which makes total sense.
We do a lot of clothing and accessory shopping at these types of stores and I reckon we save 50% or more as compared to what we would spend at a department store. This estimate is from personal experience as it’s based on mistakes I made when I was a teenager as I would visit department stores instead to buy clothing and spent 50% more those past years!
Still to give myself comfort sometimes I will read the label of an item and do a quick Google search. And 9.9 times out of 10, I will find that I am saving significantly by buying the item from one of these discount retailers. For example, we paid about $30 for this big rustic-looking wall clock that we placed in our Family Room. This same clock was selling for $80 at two different home stores; almost triple the price!
Continue to Shop Online
There are still plenty of times when I decide to shop online. I use sites like Amazon and eBay quite a bit and some stuff is super-cheap there. For example, my phone cases always come from eBay. I bought a nice quality thick plastic case for my iPhone for $3.99 and free shipping! And I bought several of those matte screen protectors (like 4-5 in a pack) for like $2-3 also with free shipping. I always find phone cases to be much more costly in store vs online. Additionally, I bought this sunglasses neck cord strap thingi-ma-jingi online for $0.99 free shipping. At my local mall kiosk, the guy was charging $5.99! For little things like these, it’s always good to check the sellers rating to make sure others are satisfied with the product.
So do you prefer in store vs. online shopping, or vice versa? Have you come across challenges in each (e.g., delivery, customer service, returns) which have swayed your decision one way or another?
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