When you think of shopping you traditionally think of grabbing your credit card and hitting the high street on a Saturday afternoon. But with more and more of us choosing to shop online, could all that be about to change?
As we move ever further into a culture of convenience we expect services to be available 24/7. In turn, of course, that requires many of us to work shifts and the traditional Saturday shopping trip into town simply isn’t an option for a lot of us anymore.
There are plenty of benefits to online shopping, that’s for sure. For pure convenience there’s really no contest.
Those living in rural areas, or those with young children to look after, can find getting into town a mission in itself.
The same goes for elderly shoppers who may find their mobility isn’t what it used to be.
Online shopping can be a benefit when you consider that in less time than it takes to find your keys, find your wallet, put your coat and shoes on and get out the front door, your online purchase can already be on its way!
With most online retailers also allowing you to save your credit card details on your account, buying online takes literally moments and becomes as simple as a couple of clicks of a mouse. Or simpler yet, a couple of taps on a smart phone app!
There are no crowds to contend with when you shop online. The items you’re after will almost certainly be in stock, your choice will be far greater and if you want to look around for a good deal on a purchase, there’s no walking from shop to shop until you’ve lost the will to live – you just go to a price comparison site and it’s all done for you.
Of course, with shopping online you don’t get the instant gratification that comes with traditional high street shopping.
Waiting for your shiny new purchase to be delivered isn’t quite the same as coming home laden with bags and laying your new purchases out on the table.
Additionally, if your parcel is too big to fit through the letterbox, you better make sure you’re home when the postman calls or you’ll spend all the time you’ve saved going to the sorting office to pick it up!
There’s also definitely something to be said for the social side of traditional high street shopping.
Meeting up with friends and stopping for lunch half way through the day is all part of the joy of a good day’s bargain hunting. Not to mention the value of having a friend with you while you try on clothes or shoes.
Most online retailers have great policies for trying on and returning shoes and clothing, but if the items you’ve bought online aren’t right, that means another trip to the post office that could have been avoided.
No amount of convenience will ever replace the pleasure we get from browsing in a real bookshop or rummaging in an end of line clothes sale, so it’s hard to imagine a time when the high streets will no longer attract shoppers at all.
But whether you prefer to buy online or on the high street one things for certain – where there are shops there will always be shoppers, reaching for their credit card and ready to snap up a bargain wherever and whenever they see one.
This article was written by Les Roberts, who regularly writes about all things personal finance from mortgages to savings.