Friday, December 02, 2016

Christmas shopping

Yes, I’m one of those $#%()+&%_!! who actually get their Christmas shopping done early. Other than getting gifts for some Christmas in the City kiddos, I’m done. Not everything is as yet in my possession, but done is done. And I’m hoping for a nice snowy night in the next few weeks, and I’ll get the wrapping done, too.

My shopping is a mix of in-store and online, with the bias this year toward online.

In that respect, I’m like most other Americans. When it comes to holiday shopping, we’re fleeing the brick and mortars for the world of the virtual.

That said, there are many reasons that I actually prefer being in a store store. Sometimes you just can’t get the right feel or right fit when shopping on line. I’m a tweener with respect to foot size. Having outgrown what I had once thought was my macropod size of 10, I’m now somewhere between a 10.5 and an 11, which means I end up ordering two sizes and returning one. How much better to be able to try something on for size in the store! Of course, now that I think about, shoes are an odd one for me to go all physical store on.

In addition to having a long foot, I have a thin foot. It’s fattened up a bit, but that still means it’s an AA or AAA as opposed to an AAAA. Ultra-narrow size 10’s have never been in plentiful supply, and even before the Internet, I was ordering most of my shoes from catalogues. But now that I’m dealing with the in-between sizes issue, it would be easier and less painful to actually be able to buy shoes in a store. It’s just that no one would stock my size anyway.

If we can’t tell whether the shoe fits online, we can’t tell what something feels like, either. Last summer I ordered some Eileen Fisher pants, thinking they were going to be a replacement for a pair of ancient khakis that were my summer go-to. Alas, what I thought was a replacement turned out to be pants made with some scratchy, piquet-like fabric. Which was precisely why they were on sale. If I’d been able to see that fabric up close and personal, I never would have made the buy.

And while I do buy some books via Amazon, there is nothing like a trip to a bookstore. (In my case, Trident Books, which also lets me get a nice walk in.)

Sometimes being in a “real” store is just plain better.

But there’s something to be said – convenience, choice – for going online. And this year, I did the bulk of my Christmas shopping online.

To celebrate the completion of my shopping, this weekend I’ll be doing some stress-free shopping for myself, in small stores in Cambridge.

But big name retailers, now that the holiday shopping balance is tilting towards online, are trying to woo physical shoppers back in through their doors.

Retailers such as Macy’s Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. are preparing for the holidays by offering more exclusive products, store-in-store showrooms and -- in some cases -- cash rewards….

“The problem is there’s no silver bullet,” said Ed Yruma, a retail analyst at Keybanc Capital Markets Inc. “What we’re increasingly seeing is a consumer for a holiday season that’s shopping off a list, and there’s no better way to shop off a list than on your computer.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Actually, shopping off a list is better in a physical store, too. Although one of the physical store pleasures is, of course, browsing and coming across a surprise item you didn’t even know existed, let alone that you needed it.

Anyway, what the stores are looking to do is offer items in the stores that you can’t get online, and to  “create more of an experience for shoppers.”

Much as I like shopping, I could really do without turning it into any more of an experience than it already is.

But if stores are going to go there, for Macy’s, I would suggest that a good experience might be being able to find someplace to pay for your merchandise without having to walk a quarter of a mile. Come to think of it, maybe that’s part of the experience they’re looking to provide: orienteering, exercise…

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