Some people have said that the era of mall shopping sprees could be coming to an end. All over the world, more and more people are choosing to do their shopping online instead of in brick-and-mortar stores and shopping malls. On the surface, it’s easy to see the reason for this shift in consumerism. Instead of having go to a crowded shopping mall and stand in lines for products that may or may not be in stock, people can sit in their pajamas at home and browse sites like Amazon.com for many of their purchases. They can also save money with things like Coles vouchers that exist as security codes instead of tiny pieces of paper clipped out of newspapers. People can even order their groceries online and have them delivered right to their doors. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to go to the market anymore, or so some people believe.
The Popularity of Online Shopping
Online shopping has changed the way people shop. While there are still events such as the infamous Black Friday shopping spree that millions in the United States engage in the day after Thanksgiving, many experts say that Cyber Monday is just as important for retailers. In fact, well over 100 million people do their holiday shopping from their own homes the Monday after Thanksgiving instead of shopping centers everywhere on the previous Friday.
Benefits of Online Shopping
Aside from the obvious convenience factor, are there really serious benefits to shopping online instead of in a store? That all depends on who you talk to. Those who prefer online shopping say that it gives better access to the items they really want. Shopping “the old fashioned way” often meant taking the risk that the item you want is out of stock. If it was, you were essentially out of luck unless you wanted to drive to another store. With online shopping, merchandise can be shipped from a store near you, but if it isn’t at that store you can have the same item sent from a warehouse. There is no travelling to different locations and no waiting for the next shipment to come to “your” store.
Another benefit to buying online is that it saves shoppers money. When you buy something online, you are only paying for the product itself. There is no markup to cover the costs of running a physical store, and often no sales tax. The fact that customers don’t have to drive to a store means that they save money on fuel—another plus for those in a troubled economy.
As beneficial as shopping online for customers can be, it does have some drawbacks. For one thing, shopping is seen as a communal experience. People like going to shopping malls and seeing the products they are buying, and they like to be able to make a purchase and leave a store with it on the same day. They also like spending time with family and friends while they shop. Buying what you need online all but removes that experience.
There’s also the issue of sales tax, or lack thereof, whenever you buy something online. As much as people hate the idea of paying taxes, it is money that the government needs. Overall, the loss of sales tax that comes from online shopping costs the United States government, the wealthiest and most powerful government in the world, over $23 billion.
In the end, the question of whether or not online shopping is a good thing is left open to interpretation. While there are some benefits, there are also a few major drawbacks. One thing is for certain, however: online shopping really has changed the consumer world, and it will continue to do so.