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Con: Shopping online is uncertain, takes lots of time

By ErinPradia
Dec. 18, 2011 at 6:18 a.m.


The Debate

As online shopping increases in popularity, customers weigh several factors in deciding where to do the bulk of their Christmas shopping.

While efficiency, variety and convenience drive cyber shoppers, others relish the atmosphere of Christmas, in-person customer service and the ability to touch the merchandise.

Is it worth the cost of shipping to avoid crowds, lines and gas prices? Can every Christmas wish list be fulfilled by shopping only at stores located nearby? These are the question shoppers ask themselves as they round out their Christmas lists this year.

The Christmas carols floating over the speakers and the hum of other holiday shoppers set the tone for Crystal Garza when she goes out to shop.

"Some people like to avoid the crowds, but I like the feel of the holiday rush," Garza, 29, said. "When I shop in the store, I get to look at the size and know what I'm actually going to get."

Morgan Sewalt, 20, of College Station, prefers shopping in person because it makes the experience more fun.

While she and her mother were out shopping for an "ugly Christmas sweater party," they also went to get massages and pedicures.

"It puts you in the Christmas spirit," agreed her mother, Kim Sewalt, 39, of Victoria.

The elder Sewalt also said it is easier to ensure the quality of the items she is purchasing when she shops in person.

"We can get out there and see everything rather than being more specific through a search engine," Sewalt said. "It also makes sure the items get here on time."

Dillard's store manager Aimee Jaunal said some people use the store website to browse, but they call ahead to see if the items are available in the store.

"They like to be able to see it in person and touch it," Jaunal said. "They also like to have that in-person experience."

Most stores with both online and local branches allow customers to return merchandise in person rather than pay return shipping fees, but some customers see that option as an added hassle.

Ashley Ortiz, 18, of Victoria, prefers to shop in person because she can try on clothes before purchasing them.

"If you shop online and you don't like it, it is harder to take back," Ortiz said.

Sometimes clothes look different on the rack than they do in person, or they fit individuals differently than they appeared on models, Jaunal said.

Store associates are also able to help customers build an entire outfit and offer advice when people come into the store.

In addition to ensuring quality, some people enjoy the experience of shopping in person at Target, said Senior Team Leader Blythe Chacon.

"People often comment on the upbeat attitudes of the sales people," Chacon said. Chacon said in-store customers can ask questions of informed sales clerks before making expensive purchases - especially in the electronics department.

While there are deals offered online that are not available in the Target store, Chacon said people do not like to wait for the items to be shipped to them.

Cheyenne Repper, 16, of Victoria, prefers shopping in person because it is faster.

"While online is like a back-up plan, I don't like to wait for the shipping," Cheyenne said. "I like to try clothes on and see if they fit."

JC Penny's offers all the same prices and deals online as in person, said Merchandise Execution Manager Michael Adcock. If customers see an item they want online and it is not available in the store, it can be ordered from the store without added shipping costs, giving customers the best of both worlds.

"If we don't have a particular furniture item or clothing in a particular size, we can order it from the store," Adcock said.

Click here for the pro side of this story.

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