16th January 2014

Pondering the Pros and Cons of Online Shopping

By Eleanor Leal Luna on Thursday January 16, 2014

Back in late November, I remember feeling pretty smug when yet another Amazon parcel arrived at my desk. Christmas shopping, check!

Like millions of Britons, I chose to buy the vast majority of my gifts online for the first time this year. No queues, no hassle, no plastic bags cutting into your hand after six hours trawling round the Arndale. Instead I picked presents from the comfort of my own sofa and had them delivered straight to my door (or desk).

So it came as no surprise to me to read the recent news headlines on the continuing high street downturn, with experts predicting 12,000 shops may close this year as shoppers turn away from town centres and go online in their droves.

As much as I expected this news, it did sadden me and got me thinking about what Christmas would be like if everyone decided to forego the high street in December. There is something quite magical and nostalgic about visiting the shops at Christmas time and it is a shame to think that could one day be a thing of the past.

And on closer reflection, I realised my online shopping experience wasn’t quite as perfect as my smugness may have suggested. Yes, it was quicker, yes, maybe I saved a few bob here and there – but it comes with its own set of issues.

When a jiffy bag reeking of aftershave landed on my desk, I realised it can be hit and miss when you order liquid items. By the time I finished clearing up the mess, I smelt like a teenage boy and vowed never to buy any kind of fragrance online again.

“How’s your self-stirring mug, Mike?” I asked my brother last weekend. I was particularly proud of this lazy man gadget I’d found on Ebay, which eliminated the need of that most inconvenient of items – the teaspoon.

“Erm, yeah, it’s great,” my brother replied. His glance at my mother told me different.

They gently broke the news that after a few days’ use, it had starting leaking brown goo and had to be disposed of.

I then learnt that Dad’s self-stirring mug tragically met a similar end when it failed to stir up anything other than trouble after the button broke.

Another gift – my cousin’s nail art set from China – didn’t even arrive. I’m hoping it will be here in time for next Christmas.

What have I learnt from 2013’s Christmas present buying experiences? While nothing beats the ease and convenience of online shopping, sometimes it pays to buy on the high street.

More importantly, I’ve learnt to stay away from self-stirring mugs from Ebay.