Shopping or Shipping: With holiday shopping season coming up, students consider pros, cons of online shopping


Junior Sofia Rashid looks through online stores every day. She likes to browse and put things in her cart but she doesn’t actually buy anything until she has saved up enough money to make a large purchase. She said she likes online shopping because it’s more convenient, especially with the holiday season coming up.

“With the holidays, it’s just so busy, especially with Black Friday,” Rashid said. “Cyber Monday is where it’s at. It’s a lot more convenient and I would get so stressed shopping in the store. Online you can pick whatever you want and it’s so much easier.”

Junior Sofia Rashid uses her computer to zoom in on a shirt design for a shirt she was considering on buying from the store. Rashid said events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are more convenient nowadays because people don’t have to deal with the long lines and dangers behind shopping during these days.

According to data from Statista and eMarketer, online sales in the U.S. during the holiday season have been steadily increasing, with sales of $91.2 billion in 2016, $106.1 billion in 2017, and a predicted $123.4 billion for the 2018 shopping season. Statista also stated that throughout the entirety of 2017 about 1.66 billion people purchased online goods worldwide, with global e-retail sales amounting to $2.3 trillion U.S. dollars and projections show a growth of up to $4.48 trillion U.S. dollars by 2021.

Business teacher Robert Holman said he believes one of the main reasons online shopping is becoming more mainstream is because of the success of big online stores like Amazon. According to, Amazon made an annual revenue of over $177 million in 2017.

“Amazon is having a large effect on a lot of the brick and mortar stores,” Holman said. “That’s why Sears is having all kinds of trouble right now. JCPenney is also having trouble. It’s also why you see a lot of other places expanding their online options.”

Junior Molly O’Rourke looks at sweaters while she is at a store. She said people often don’t like to go outside to go shopping so that’s why she thinks the online aspect of shopping has exploded in the past few years.

Online shopping is becoming more prevalent in today’s society with notable help from social media and smartphones. According to a December 2016 Pew Research Center report, 51 percent of Americans report making purchases with their cell phones, and 15 percent have bought items through links on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. YouTuber Safiya Nygaard is known for her videos in which she buys the first five things social media sites recommend to her, with each video getting around seven million views, showing how common it is for businesses to advertise their products through social media.

“(Social media) is a more effective way for a lot of stores to get the word out on their products,” Holman said. “People are so used to being on their devices and they’re on social media so much that it’s enhanced what everyone is trying to do.”

Despite online shopping’s growing popularity, there are issues that come with not buying items in person. Junior Molly O’Rourke said she prefers to go into the store to shop, because of the obstacles that come with online shopping, like incorrect clothing sizes and wait times.

“(Clothes) usually don’t fit, and it’s kind of a struggle to go back and return them instead of going into the store and trying on clothes and getting them that second,” O’Rourke said. “For a lot of the clothes on the models, the clothes are perfectly made for the models so they look good online, but when you get the clothes, they look different. They can be different colors.”

According to the Pew Research Center, although 64 percent of Americans prefer shopping in person, 65 percent prefer shopping online based on price differences. O’Rourke said she agrees, saying she thinks one of the main reasons for online shopping becoming more common is because of its convenience.

“It is becoming more common to shop online because some people don’t have cars to shop and go places and it’s a lot easier to just go online on any device and just click a button and order something,” O’Rourke said. “And time-wise, you can online shop at night or anytime and then with malls you usually have to plan it out because stores close at certain times.”

Junior Molly O’Rourke contemplates whether to buy some shoes. O’Rourke said online shopping is more convenient than real life shopping, which is why it is dominating
the market
and holidays.

Holman said pricing and convenience are big factors as to why online stores like Amazon are dominating in sales at the moment.

“Amazon is so effective because people want two things: they want a good price and they want convenience. And Amazon can deliver it the next day so customers can get items very quickly,” Holman said. “Some websites even offer same day delivery.”

Rashid said shopping, specifically for clothes, should be a positive experience, whether it’s in person or online. It’s about making sure customers are happy with their purchase and feel good about themselves in the end.

“With online shopping, this is the mental health part of me, but it’s common for people to order something that doesn’t fit the way they thought or sizes just aren’t big enough or small enough,” Rashid said. “But your body isn’t made for clothes, clothes are made for your body. So if it doesn’t fit, that’s okay. It should be a good experience.”