You may hate crowds, traffic and food court meals, but there are times when it pays off to hit the mall instead of buying online.
Shopping sure looks different these days. On Black Friday, you can choose to lounge on the couch in your pajamas while checking off items on your Christmas shopping list, or to muscle your way through the traffic and crowds at the mall with a list of items that may or may not be in stock when you get to the stores that advertised them. It’s easy to see the allure of doing it all online.
But according to Money, although you can now do virtually all of your shopping online, it can sometimes pay off to close your laptop, get off the couch and go to a store.
“When it’s an expensive purchase that needs to be experienced, brick and mortar wins,” said Benjamin K. Glaser, features editor with DealNews, a bargain-hunting site.
Sure, the convenience of online shopping is great, but here are four times when Money says you really need to do your purchasing in person:
- You need an item quickly: If you have a tight deadline, head to the store, Money said. Although many retailers offer same-day delivery, Glaser said it’s “still very much in beta mode” and typically limited to large cities. In-store pickup may sound appealing, but Money said a recent study found that shopping in person is oftentimes quicker than in-store pickup.
- Great deals: Anthem Marketing Research found that most products, about 7 in 10, are priced the same online and in-store. But you’ll oftentimes find the best bargains in-store, especially during the holiday season, because retailers want to get you in the store so you’ll spend more. “They want to lock you into their store with a great sale,” Glaser told Money.
- Bulky items: If you’re looking to purchase a large item, like a refrigerator, washer and dryer or lawn mower, you may want to shop in person, or at least check out the item in person before you buy online. Returning big items can be an expensive headache, so you’ll want to make sure that you like the item in person before buying it.
- Items where the color, fit or feel is important: Because texture, color and quality are sometimes hard to assess online, Katrina Chan, head of shopping at financial comparison site NerdWallet, told Money that when purchasing items such as home furnishings, including mattresses and couches, it’s usually better to purchase the items at a store rather than online. “Before you invest thousands on a new mattress or new sofa, you want to lie down and make sure it’s comfortable,” Chan says. The same can be said for clothes or shoes, because the fit and comfort of those items varies.
If you are limited to shopping online and want to ensure you’re getting a good bargain, check out “10 Ways to Get a Discount on Every Online Purchase.”
When do you shop online versus in-store? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.