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Is Online Shopping Really Better? Items To Consider Buying Offline:

May 12, 2023
Laura PrattBy Laura Pratt
Morningside Branch Manager 

In this digital age, online shopping has become the norm for many of us. However, it's worth noting that there are instances where buying in brick-and-mortar stores can still actually be cheaper!

In this blog, we'll break down a few certain items are still (usually) more affordable when purchased in person, just like the old days. One note, these trends won't always apply across the board, but still hopefully give you a general idea when you're deciding between online and in-person shopping:

1. Toys

If you're on the hunt for the latest and greatest toy for your little one, try exploring physical stores. According to a report from USA Today, offline toy prices have experienced a significant decline of 34 percent over the past five years. In comparison, online prices have only dropped by 25 percent. The closure of Toys-R-Us a few years ago had a notable impact on this trend. When the store discounted toys in an attempt to salvage its business (which ultimately failed), other retailers felt compelled to follow suit. Another reason why toys tend to be cheaper in physical stores is the expense associated with shipping. Online companies must accommodate various toy sizes, necessitating different packaging solutions, which ultimately drive up their shipping costs.

One more helpful hint: If you're a "thrifter," you probably know that gently used toys are usually cheaper at physical secondhand stores than they would be if you tried to purchase the same used toy on EBay or Mercari. And this way, you actually get to check the toy's condition before you buy it! 

2. Non-prescription drugs

The next time you find yourself in need of over-the-counter medicine, consider visiting a nearby drug store. Since 2014, prices at physical stores have experienced a 2 percent decline, whereas online prices have actually risen by 1.7 percent. One reason for the higher online prices is the appeal of convenience. However, it's worth noting that prices for over-the-counter drugs can vary widely by location, so it's advisable to shop around.

3. Large Appliances

In-store purchases of large appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, or televisions may allow you to negotiate the price or take advantage of special in-store promotions and discounts. Additionally, you can avoid shipping fees or additional costs associated with online delivery — you know, those pesky extra "fees" that get tagged on after you click the “Buy” button.

4. Furniture

Furniture prices can vary significantly depending on the quality, brand and store. Plus, much like appliances, shopping in-store allows you to explore clearance sales, discounted floor models, or negotiate prices with sales representatives, potentially leading to better deals compared to online shopping. And perhaps most importantly, you can actually test out the furniture to make sure it's comfortable before you pull the trigger!

5. Local Services

Services such as home repairs, renovations, or professional consultations are often best obtained in-store or through local providers. Meeting service providers face-to-face allows you to negotiate prices, discuss specific requirements, and potentially find better rates or package deals.

6. Bulk Purchases

When buying items in bulk, such as groceries, office supplies, or household essentials, in-store shopping can offer better deals, especially if you have access to membership stores or warehouse clubs. These stores often provide discounted prices or special offers for bulk purchases. And sometimes, even if the membership store also offers online ordering, they'll slightly increase the online prices for the convenience factor.

7. Clearance or Seasonal Items

In-store shopping can be advantageous for clearance sales and seasonal items. Retailers often offer significant discounts on out-of-season merchandise, holiday decorations, or end-of-line products on the “clearance rack” — which may not be as readily available or discounted online.

8. Any other negotiable items

Items that are commonly subject to negotiation, such as vehicles, antiques, or high-end electronics, can be better purchased in-store. Face-to-face interactions allow you to negotiate the price directly with the seller, potentially securing a better deal than what is available online. (Pro-tip: If you're shopping for a vehicle, get pre-approved for an auto loan beforehand to give you the best negotiating power possible). 

However, that doesn't mean online browsing isn't important! In fact, the shopping experience for many negotiable items might involve a hybrid of online browsing and a face-to-face purchase. It's always a good idea to compare prices, read reviews, and consider other factors like convenience, availability, and personal preferences before making a final decision. And those are all things that you can do online, before you ever set foot in a store.

What about Banking?

When it comes to banking with SNB, you can Bank any way you choose. Whether it's online banking, mobile banking, or face-to-face banking at one of our branches — or a combination of everything — we promise to provide the best customer service possible! 

About the Author

Laura Pratt

Laura Pratt is the Senior Retail Banking Officer at Security National Bank's downtown location. She has more than three decades of banking and lending experience, including 25 years serving customers at SNB.