Although the number of online consumers continues to rise every year and shopping malls seem to be vanishing, I know I’m not the only person who still appreciates shopping in person and truly cannot imagine ever shopping solely from a screen. Especially during the holiday season, my spirits are instantly lifted and my inner Grinch disappears when I step foot inside a lavishly decorated, perfectly laid-out store blaring Mariah Carey’s Christmas album. There are many reasons that I will be opting to do much of my Christmas shopping in person this year. Here are just a few.
01. Spreading holiday cheer
Shopping in stores during the Christmas season can really put you in the holiday spirit. True, the lines may be longer and the aisles a little more packed during this time of year, but red-and-green everything, Christmas trees and decorations lining the streets and storefronts, and cheery Christmas music definitely brighten the mood.
Christmas Grinches aside, there’s often an undercurrent of excitement and overall happiness when Christmas shopping in stores. Many people really are kind, considerate, and happy to join in the merriment during this season (though that tends to diminish the day or two before Christmas Day!). I’m often inspired by a certain Christmas display or by unique items when shopping in person; this inspiration can manifest itself in the form of a new Christmas craft idea, home decor, or gift ideas for loved ones I had not considered before.
02. Being able to try on an item before purchasing
According to the 2018 Omni-Channel Retail Report, the number one reason consumers of all generations shop at brick-and-mortar stores is because of the ability to touch or try on an item before purchasing. Personally, this is a major reason I shop in-store rather than online.
For example, if I am shopping for a dress for a Christmas party, I’m going to want to make sure it fits properly, and I don’t want the hassle of returning something I bought online. There is nothing like being able to see an item in person; you just can’t twirl in front of a mirror when shopping from your computer screen.
03. Receiving help from a sales associate
Whether you’re trying to buy your mom a sweater or your husband an electric drill, it’s easy to find yourself feeling ill-equipped for the job and inundated with too many options. It’s times like these that I really value the opinion of an outside party. There are certain shopping situations that simply warrant a bit of help and advice from a “professional,” such as when buying an item you don’t know much about or that has many different varieties.
While it’s true that online reviews are sometimes very helpful for making purchases online, they can also be overwhelming and contradictory. Too many times have I spent hours (yes, literally) reading hundreds of reviews, wondering why half of the consumers absolutely loved their beautiful dollhouse, while the other half thought that it was poorly constructed. I’ve found that it is often much easier to go straight to the source—whether that be an electronics store, a toy store, or a clothing store—and to ask the associates all of my questions.
04. Creating a fun bonding experience
Some of my favorite childhood Christmas memories are of my mom taking me shopping so I could buy gifts for my siblings and friends. I even got to lend my “expert” advice to my mother who was buying gifts for everyone on her list. By allowing me to be an active part of the Christmas gift-buying experience, my mother taught me about the joy that comes in buying for and giving to others during the holiday season—and the shopping trip itself was a kind of gift from my mother to me:quality time with her.
Now, as an adult, I continue to love Christmas shopping as a fun outing with friends or family. Sometimes there’s nothing more fun than shopping and bonding over a cup of hot cocoa.
05. Avoiding shipping costs, delays, and returns
The minimum purchases in order to earn free shipping with most online retailers can be a dealbreaker, especially if your Christmas list spans many online stores. Then there are the issues of actually waiting for your order to ship and arrive to you, the often unavoidable delays, and the disappointment if a package doesn’t arrive by the date or time that it should.
These might be small issues, but they can be completely avoided when shopping in-store. Especially close to Christmas, when the postal service is overworked and overwhelmed, it’s sometimes easier to avoid shopping online. Even after Christmas shopping is over, returns in person in a retail store tend to be easier than packaging up your items, printing a label, and dropping them off at a UPS store.
06. Better bargain-hunting opportunities
There are few things more satisfying than finding the perfect Christmas gifts at a steep discount, and this is sometimes easier to do shopping in a store than shopping from a screen.
Most retailers don’t offer the same clearance deals (or selections) online that they do in store, from Target to J. Crew. Yes, you may get the same 40 percent off deal on the online site that you’ll find in the Old Navy store, but you will not find the large assortment of clothes marked 80 percent off in the clearance section in the back of the store. If you make a beeline for the sales sections, you might discover a real steal—and even get some new ideas, since you never know exactly what you’ll find.
07. Getting exercise
As an added bonus, running around stores in person gets to count as your exercise for the day (or the week?). Seriously, though, the chance to get a good walk in a climate-controlled environment and to step away from the screens is a real incentive to get to the mall this Christmas.
This may seem like a silly point, but we know there are plenty of good reasons to forego staring at our computer screens for hours while buying gifts from our Christmas lists. Like all exercise, I find that getting out and moving while shopping puts me in a better overall mood and makes me feel like I’ve truly accomplished something.
Whether you want to see your gift options in person or you simply enjoy getting out of the house to shop, there are many good reasons to shop in-store this Christmas season. I love online shopping as much as any millennial, but give brick-and-mortar stores a try to put yourself in the Christmas spirit.