In Praise of On-line Shopping

I’ve always enjoyed catalog shopping. It was fun shopping from the comfort of my own home. My husband used to tease me about spending so much time waiting on the post office line to return packages. I told him it was better than standing on a fitting room line.

When catalogs moved to the internet and the postal service starting picking up return packages, shopping from home became even more alluring. I don’t have to wait on line at the post office anymore to send back items that didn’t work out, and I no longer have to wait for the new catalog to arrive. Merchandise is available to browse all the time.

My NYC apartment building is surrounded by stores. The supermarket is just around the corner, with a Duane Reade drug store right next door. And just across the street is another drug store, CVS. Within a few blocks, I have Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Petco, Whole Foods, and many others.

When I first moved into this apartment 15 years ago, I did most of my shopping in my local stores. It is one of the things I loved about this neighborhood. Over time, however, I found shopping in stores increasingly frustrating. When I visit a store to buy a specific item, they often are out of it, or even worse have stopped carrying it. I started to find a larger selection of items when I shopped on-line. If I’m looking for a particular brand, there is a good chance I will find it somewhere on-line, even if I can no longer find it in the neighborhood.

I now view on-line shopping as a better use of my time than shopping in the neighborhood. Rather than making the time to swing by one of my local stores only to walk away empty-handed, I can get on-line as soon as I realize that I need something, even if it’s the middle of the night. I subscribe to Amazon Prime, which for a small fee each year ($99 plus tax), waives my shipping charges on most items and gives me next-day or two-day shipping. I am amazed at the vast reservoir of items available through Amazon. I can bring up past orders and order exactly the same thing I did as last time, which saves me the time of figuring out what it is that I need. And if Amazon is out of something, I can usually find it on another site.

Unlike buying things in person, however, ordering something new from a photo can be tricky. You don’t know until it gets here whether it is what you really wanted. It might be bigger or smaller than you expected, or the wrong color, or have different features than the description. Many of my clients get discouraged and put off making decisions about what they’ve ordered. Most retail web sites have liberal return policies, but you must remember to take advantage of them. Shopping on-line should make you more efficient, not create clutter.


  1. Ellen Delap on May 3, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Love that online shopping helps us with efficiency! Amazon Prime has made a big difference for easy options.

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