Well this week marks the official start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is upon us, and I know that we can all feel the excitement. While I personally don’t plan on hitting the stores at 5am to battle crazed crowds of people looking to score the greatest deal since a Snickers was a nickel – incidentally my wife does each and every year – I do plan on engaging in a different holiday tradition, which I have been diligent in practicing for a few years now.
What is this new holiday tradition you ask? Regrettably it’s not raising the aluminum Festivus pole. Much to the contrary, it’s getting the majority of my Holiday shopping done from the convenience of my home office. That’s right, I whole-heartedly embraced online shopping several years ago and have not looked back since. I know that I am not alone in this either – JupiterResearch predicts 114 million people will spend a combined total of $32 billion online this holiday season.
Don’t think for a second that it’s going to stop there either. According to eCommerce Times, AOL drove $1 billion in holiday sales during the 1998 season, $7 billion in 1999 and by 2011 online shopping is expected to make up 9% of all retail sales totaling $270 billion.
If you’ve not yet embraced online shopping you may be wondering what drives groves of holiday shoppers to the internet. There are 2 primary answers to that question. The first is price. Not to be outdone by the brick and mortar after-Thanksgiving bonanza, many e-tailers routinely offer great deals as well as a plethora of free shipping offers and special discounts. And don’t be discouraged if you think your net skills aren’t savvy enough to sniff out these deals; there are many helpful sites, such as Fat Wallet, out there to help you track down deals.
Another motivator driving people into the realm of online shopping is convenience. I have to admit, this is the primary reason that I turn to cyber-space for my shopping needs. The many conveniences that online shopping has to offer are almost too many to mention, but I will do my best to touch on the highlights here:
- Comparison Shopping – I can’t think of an easier way to compare prices, features, products or retailers than with comparison shopping engines like Become.com.
- Direct Shipping – If you have friends and family spread all across this great land like I do, you are bound to appreciate the fact that many e-commerce retailers will wrap your gifts and ship direct to your recipient’s door. It doesn’t get much easier than that. I even use this feature for my nieces and nephew’s birthdays throughout the year.
- Local Pick-up – Most major retailers will even allow you to do your shopping online and then pick up your merchandise directly from your local outlet.
- Specialty & Niche Stores – I don’t care where you live, from New Amsterdam to New York, you are guaranteed to find many specialty stores online that are not available in your local area.
- Gift Ideas – Even if you don’t have a clue what to get that hard to shop for person on your list, there is no reason to waste time aimlessly wandering the malls hoping inspiration will strike, you can employ tools like The Gift Ideas Generator to help you find the perfect gift.
- Save Gas – Just think of all the gas you can save by eliminating the running around associated with Holiday shopping. You may even be able to use these savings to spread your budget a little further this season.
Even if you’re not quite ready to give up the black Friday tradition of storming the after-Thanksgiving sales, there are several sites that can help assist you from tracking down the best black Friday deals to locating local businesses that sell the products you need.
So in the spirit of the holidays, go forth and spread cheer this season by finding the perfect gift that will be cherished for years to come. And keep in mind that utilizing all that the internet has to offer will help make the process a little easier this year.