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The hidden cost of online shopping …

Authored by Phil Meekin

Phil Meekin

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Approximate read time: 2 minutes

As someone who isn’t a big fan of shopping, the thought of hitting the shops to do battle with the masses for the perfect Christmas gift filled me with its usual dread. So this year I decided to see just how much I could achieve without actually stepping foot in a shop.

Coming from a large family (6 adult siblings & 2 nieces), this year we decided to put a £10 limit on presents for the adults and concentrate on making Christmas special for the little children.

Armed with present ideas for brothers, sisters and in-laws, I spent a few steady lunch breaks surfing the net looking for the perfect gift. Smug in the knowledge I wouldn’t be bumped into by a double buggy, trod on by teenagers or held up by oldies.

Amazon proved to be my biggest success by far. As I waited every day for my parcels to arrive, I genuinely thought I’d cracked the secret to a stress free organised Christmas.

Being on a budget, I decided on each item to opt for the cheapest delivery method. However, this turned out to be the biggest spanner in the works. I encountered a nail biting wait for the post man every day (who generally only brings the gas bill!).

Two days before Christmas finally everything arrived, and peace and smugness was restored to my house hold. However, a review of my Christmas spending soon changed this. As I realised a big percentage of my shopping budget actually went on delivery charges, and a large proportion of my time spent on emails chasing orders!

There is lots of talk in the news about retailers struggling to compete with the convenience of online shopping. Recent high street insolvencies, such as the administration of Woolworths, Clintons, La Senza, would appear to demonstrate this.

Online retailers can minimise overheads such as rents and staffing to offer prices that can undercut the high street retailer. However, the cost of transport and shipping can often offset the savings made. Plus, the hassle of waiting for delivery and returning incorrect items can still result in the aforementioned dread.

Perhaps I’ll venture out in the January sales for a spot of actual shopping!

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