Weighing the options: on-line vs. in-line shopping
Crunch time for holiday shopping is upon us (especially you Hanukkah shoppers!) and you may be torn between attacking the mall or buy on-line. For your consideration, here are some criteria to weigh in making your decision:
Costs of shopping locally:
Time - Often overlooked is the opportunity cost of shopping. Perhaps there's a reason you finish the holiday season exhausted, ready for the social gulag of January! To put a monetary value on your time, you might consider the cost of buying cookies instead of making them, hiring a babysitter, the cost of the drying-out clinic you have to send the old man to because you weren't home to cut him off in time.
Travel - The IRS allows $0.485 per mile, so using this as a starting point, it doesn't take many trips to the mall to offset any sales savings.
Meals - You know that you're going to have to eat at some point during the day, and the Cheesecake Factory is so convenient.
Medications - Not everyone has to increase their blood pressure medication in prep for shopping, but how about the Advil for your aching feet?
Price - Generally, a brick and mortar business has higher overhead, and therefore has to charge more than an internet business.
Price comparison - Unless you have the patience of a saint and the feet of a marine, comparison shopping is a chore few will pursue.
Costs of shopping on-line:
Medications - Is there a person alive who doesn't seethe when faced with customer disservice when on-line shopping goes awry?
Shipping - Double check this cost, which some vendors use as a profit center allowing them to lowball the sales item.
Returns - Expecting them to follow the sometimes arcane rules to return online gifts can result in you receiving that same gift back from them next year.
Out of stocks - You'd think that companies that sell over the internet integrate their inventory with their catalogue sales. You'd think.
Home as prison - Somehow, the local Fedex delivery person is able to predict the timing of my restroom visits, ringing the door bell at the very most inopportune time.
The laying on of hands - For many of us, the touching is a crucial part of a satisfying shopping experience. Touching the screen on which an item is displayed is not a good substitute (although it seems to work in the porn industry).