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Smart Shopper: Shopping online vs. in-store

We know you love your online shopping, but how’s it compare to the shopping you actually have to put on pants for? Let’s break it down.

For the first time ever online shopping officially overtook brick and mortar shopping in February, according to the Commerce Department. But does shopping online actually mean you’re saving a buck?

Online shopping is at your fingertips 24/7. We know the pro’s: convenience, being able to get any product, availability especially if what you want isn’t in-store, and time-saving because “click” is a whole lot faster than trying to find a parking space before Christmas.

But if actually setting foot in an establishment is your MO, some pro’s are: interacting with an item, instant gratification, customer service is easier, there are no shipping nor return costs, and it can be a fun, social activity.

First tip: Go online to compare prices. Search for discount codes too. There are smart shopper apps and sites for this, like on a popular site called PriceGrabber you can compare everything, then if you want you can still go to the store.

See if the store you’re in will match the price of an item you want that you found online at another store for cheaper.

So what if you’re shopping for something specific like a TV? Tech advice website Lifewire went through our trusty list and here’s their final verdict on prices: Go online for the best deal on a TV. 

They say most online prices are lower even with shipping. The catch here is you should research the company you’re buying from and read the fine print.

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What if you’re shopping for clothes? The main consensus on this one is sales, sales sales! Keep track of online ones and in-store because sometimes one is better than the other.

If you’re going online, do your research. Are reviews saying the shirt runs big? Is it made out of terrible material? Find out.

For some overall tips, we look to consumer expert Clark Howard:
– Do your research online to compare prices before going to the store and see if that store will match prices.
– Make a list and don’t impulse buy.
– Check out reviews on your smartphone of something you see in a store.

A last tidbit to keep in mind, if you’re doing all this price comparison you’re probably not doing it at small businesses. Stay tuned for another Smart Shopper segment about why where you drop your dollars can matter.

More Smart Shopper tips: