Holiday Shopping Online - A Smart Choice

It was the day before Christmas, and as expected a major department store was overwhelmed by last minute shoppers. A very busy and lone customer service clerk was frantically trying to sort out the flood of requests from the long line of customers standing in front of her counter, when a very angry and aggressive man pushed his way to the front of the line to confront her.

"I ordered a diamond necklace from this store a month ago, and this necklace is not what I ordered." the man snapped. "It's the day before Christmas, and I'd like you to tell me what I'm supposed to do now?"

The clerk politely explained her situation and asked him to please take his proper place in line. At this suggestion, the man bellowed, "Young lady, do you know who I am?"

In response, the clerk calmly picked up the microphone for the store's public address system and said, "This is the Customer Service Desk, and we have a gentleman here who does not know who he is. If anyone can come and identify him, please do so."

The man, now furious, looked at the clerk and said, "Screw you!"

The clerk, a rather attractive and shapely young woman, smiled at him and said, "You'll have to stand in line for that as well, sir."

I don't know if this story is actually true, but I suspect it's not. However, I thought it would be fun to remind you in a humorous way that once again it's time to start thinking about the holiday shopping season.

These days, you have two choices when it comes to holiday shopping. On one hand, there are those shoppers who still enjoy the hustle and bustle of doing their holiday shopping in traditional stores. Admittedly, shopping for gifts in this manner does have a certain appeal, especially if you're one of those people who loves the festive decorations and crowds of people.

On the other hand, many shoppers now take advantage of the option to do all, or at least part of their holiday shopping online. In fact, shopping online is starting to become one of the most popular options for holiday shoppers. Why? Well, there are a number of benefits to doing your holiday shopping online. Two of the most important benefits are the ability to do last minute shopping, and the convenience of avoiding those overcrowded and hectic stores. Let's take a closer look at these and a few other advantages of holiday shopping online.

Last Minute Shopping

While there are many hard-core shoppers, who are always prepared for the holidays and generally do their shopping well in advance, many of us normally find ourselves scrambling to purchase gifts at the last minute. It should not surprise you to learn that the last minute shoppers far outnumber the well organized group, who often complete their holiday shopping months in advance. The "last minute" crowd typically includes all the chronic procrastinators, who usually put off holiday shopping until the very last minute. It also includes those well intentioned shoppers who frequently get caught by surprise with a need to purchase gifts for a few extra people at the last minute.

Fortunately, making your purchases online can take a lot of the stress out of buying last minute gifts. By far, the greatest benefit of doing your last minute shopping online is the ability to have your gifts shipped directly to friends and relatives. Many of today's available shipping options even make it possible to have your gifts arrive within 24 hours after you've made your purchase. And, if you have really deep pockets, there are even companies out there who will deliver your gifts on a day and at a time that you specify, like Christmas Eve, for example. Expect to pay a premium for these express shipping services, but it can be a worthwhile investment for last minute shoppers who would otherwise be caught empty handed.

Avoiding Holiday Crowds

Generally, the huge crowds at traditional stores can be unbelievable during the holiday season. Add to this the frustration of trying to find a parking space and then attempting to navigate to various stores, and the whole experience ends up being too stressful and chaotic.

While it's true many shoppers thrive in this chaotic environment, most people find shopping in this manner to be totally aggravating. Some shoppers may even enjoy this type of environment for brief periods of time. However, research had shown that many people have difficulty completing their holiday shopping with so much chaos surrounding them.

Shopping online provides a welcomed escape from much of the confusion that is often associated with holiday shopping at traditional stores. Online shoppers can shop when it is most convenient for them, and typically the only troubling crowd related problem you will experience is a slow loading website (normally the result of too many online visitors). Waiting for a few extra moments for a website to reload may be a little frustrating, but it is significantly less stressful than standing in line at a crowded store.

Additional Benefits

There are other benefits to shopping online, which do not necessarily pertain to the holidays, but certainly simplify the process of purchasing holiday gifts. One of these benefits is the ability to comparison shop with ease. When shopping online, comparison shopping is as easy as opening the websites for competing businesses and comparing their products and prices. This is certainly much simpler than running around from one store to another, trying to find out which store has the best price on a particular item.

Here's one final, but much less obvious benefit of shopping online: the ability to purchase items from stores all over the world. Holiday shoppers who limit themselves to traditional stores are also limiting their product choices. A shopper at a traditional store can normally only purchase items that they physically find in a store, while online shoppers can search stores around the world for a particular item. This can be particularly useful, especially if you're looking for a specific or unusual item that might otherwise be impossible to locate.

The Bottom Line

So, what's the bottom line? If you're one of those people who thrives in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and you don't mind fighting for parking, pushing your way through large crowds, and standing in long lines to make your purchases, then we wish you well. For all of you procrastinators out there, who are always looking for simplicity, convenience, and ease, we'll see you online. Remember, even if you wait until the very last minute, online shopping is still your smartest choice.

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