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For many people this is a time when shopping becomes an unavoidable task, even if they avoid it like the plague for the other 11 months of the year. Those of us who celebrate Christmas tend to buy gifts for our nearest and dearest. Sure, Christmas is essentially a religious holiday, but consumerism also plays a part in proceedings.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, shopping options were limited. You either went out to bricks-and-mortar stores to buy all that you needed to buy, or you turned to mail order catalogs. Now, the Web has opened up a whole new realm, and online shopping is literally big business. There is more choice open to each and every one of us, so we want to know which method you choose and how that affects your shopping experience.

This Week’s Question…

How Do You Shop For Christmas & Beyond?

In all honesty I suspect most of you reading this won’t exclusively use one of the following methods for shopping before, during, and after the holidays. Instead, you’ll use a combination. Feel free to tell us which is your preferred method, or alternatively list more than one website or app. If you shop offline then you can tell us why you haven’t yet caught the online shopping bug.


Is there a particular online retailer you use? Is Amazon DOWNLOAD Your Unofficial Amazon Trail Guide DOWNLOAD Your Unofficial Amazon Trail Guide Do you ever feel as if you could be shopping smarter when it comes to Amazon? That other people out there know the tricks to securing the best deals, free shipping and more? Well, it's... Read More your first port of call? Or are you addicted to eBay? How about the daily deal websites? Is price all-important when it comes to shopping online?


Is there a particular shopping app you use? Joel recently listed 8 of the best Tis The Season: 8 Great Shopping Apps [Android] Tis The Season: 8 Great Shopping Apps [Android] With Thanksgiving passing into memory, we now have to prepare for one of the most joyous and festive holidays of the year: Christmas! And, for better or worse, Christmas is the season where we need... Read More , but do you know of another that has helped you snag bargains? Do you check prices online against those in bricks-and-mortar stores?

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Is there a particular reason you don’t shop online? Do you like the chance to actually look at or try out products before you buy them? Does tradition always win out over convenience? Are you happy paying a higher price for service?

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, and the respect of other readers. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Olli365

  1. Anonymous
    December 30, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I buy 1) what I know someone needs, 2) what I think someone needs, 3) what I think someone will realize they needed or wanted when they see it. I buy only online, mostly Amazon and L L Bean, but occasionally Newegg, or one of several jewelry sites. Jewelry buying online is risky, so I don't spend a lot. I never go to a store, using gasoline is an added tax on the item, and people crowd into stores like cattle and hogs if they think there's a deal to be had. No thanks. I rarely, if ever, pay shipping, except for Ebay. And, most importantly, I start shopping for the succeeding Christmas during the current years' Christmas sales.

  2. Jennifer Lee
    December 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Online! I will not purchase people clothes so I do not have to worry about fit. So online works the best. There are a few people I only get gift cards.

  3. Martin Pierce
    December 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Three Words--Amazon, Wal-Mart, Costco; Done.

  4. Stephanie Liles
    December 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I shop using a list of websites from my loved ones of where they created wish lists (ex. Amazon). I dont have to worry about anybody's feelings getting hurt, everyone getting at least one thing they really want/need. I dont have to fight the crowds, do it all from my home, and be stress free!

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Do you ever miss the thrill of shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores and possibly stumbling across a bargain or a surprise?

      Wishlists are awesome, by the way :)

      • Steph
        December 16, 2012 at 3:07 am

        Yeah I miss them, but not so much during this particular holiday. I worked retail management for 12 years, so I have just learned better....

  5. Vishal Srivastava
    December 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    For me, being a Hindu (and almost an atheist), Christmas is not a major festival. Still we celebrate it (except for going to the Church). My shopping will begin beyond Christmas. I usually follow an algorithm in going about shopping-
    1. Decide the thing you want to buy. This is a personal decision and it happens without any help. To illustrate my algorithm, I'll take the example of Smart Phone I bought last New Year. After the 1st step, I knew it must be a smart phone.
    2. Decide the budget. Since I have just entered college and don't earn, budget is one of the key things and is mostly fixed by parents. I had a 8000 INR budget on my phone.
    3. Compare the price of the product online. This is where I start researching and gathering intel. What are the various kinds of smart phone around in my budget. I compare manufacturers, models, features, OS etc. I might not find a conclusive answer on all questions but this step helps me shorten my scope from probably 100 choices to less than 10. By the end of this step, I knew it was an Android I was looking for most preferably in a Samsung or LG device.
    4. The first market visit. Now, with a list (in my head) of the <10 devices, their features, specs, costs etc. I head to the market to get a demo of the product. I usually head to a place from where I'm not likely to buy anything. After this step, I had the fight from 10 devices down to 2.
    5. The second recon. The first step gave me a lot to choose from. But when I'm freshly back from my quest in the market, I compare whatever I've chosen. Out of the 2 devices, I chose Samsung Galaxy Y for its good features in a low cost.
    6. Final Purchase. Here, I know all the markets where competition is high. I start this step but getting to know the best prices online and then going to high competition markets and comparing the price they are selling the product to me wrt to the overall package they are giving me. I made my deal of SGY in 6900 INR which was very low at that time as it was being sold at around 7500 INR. Spent another 400 INR and got a 8GB SD card thrown in as well.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      Most people in the UK celebrate Christmas but don't go to church, so we're not all that different :)

      Wow, you have a very systematic approach to shopping for gifts. I kind of like it!

  6. Hank Hollman
    December 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Really, it's not an either or: I prefer the ease and quick efficiency of shopping online ... for some things. Items I KNOW enough about that touch or sight won't affect the choice. But clothing and other gifts, as well as items I would not know existed save for the "oh, look at that" experience HAVE to be done in person. Add to that the entertainment value of visiting different stores, pausing for coffee or a treat, interacting with people, etc. [not to mention AVOIDING the hermit effect] are just as good a reason to battle the crowds. So, may answer is ... BOTH.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      I happen to agree. I could never switch to shopping online completely. It's a little... dull.

  7. Susan P
    December 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I don't shop online, period. I don't have a credit or debit card to pay for things online. This is a good thing, because I have a VERY hard time handing cash over at the register. This helps hinder my holiday spending!

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      It's far too easy to spend money online. Luckily I'm rather tight so I don't spend frivolously.

  8. Maritza Borunda
    December 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I shop using my smartphone and favor stores where I can make free returns to their physical store. That way I don't have to go to the post office.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Returns is a definite disadvantage of online shopping. Thanks for reminding me of that :)

  9. Douglas Mutay
    December 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    My entire shopping list was completed at Amazon. Last year Bestbuy was my first choice but this time I have used only Amazon.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      What made you ditch Best Buy for Amazon?

      • Douglas Mutay
        December 11, 2012 at 6:32 am

        Some of their policies that preventing them to ship items in certains parts of the world even when you pay for the shipping. I use to do online shopping to buy gift for friend and family and have it delivered to their places. I found Amazon to be more open to the world.

        • Dave Parrack
          December 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm

          I guess that is one of the many reasons Amazon has boomed while all around it stores are shutting down. There will always be a retailer willing to fill the void left by others.

        • Douglas Mutay
          December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm

          Oh yeah! Totally agree with you on that point!

  10. Macwitty
    December 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    My Christmas shopping was done in November! This year I have just a few gifts to buy and got them during a holiday trip

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      A sensible approach I wish more people would adopt. I've just about finished my shopping.

  11. Adriel Tan
    December 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I buy from online and use the awesome amazon add-on to add anything to a wishlist on I do buy offline too for non-technical items...

  12. Alan Wade
    December 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I used to spend hours wandering around the shops trying to get idea's for Christmas presents, which considering one of my pet hates is shopping, you can imagine just how tedious I found it.
    Now, with exception of the wife's present which is nearly always a present card unless I am instructed differently, I just leave the present buying to her!
    She loves shopping so I am just adding to her enjoyment plus she dosnt like me shopping with her so I am adding to my enjoyment as well.
    Its a win, win situation.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Have you never been tempted to shop online instead? It's a lot less painful for those who hate the drudge of shopping. I'm one of the few men in the world to rather enjoy shopping. Sad, I know.

      • Alan Wade
        December 11, 2012 at 7:50 am

        There are many things we buy online Dave. That is, if I am going to buy something, my favorite way to shop. The bit I dont like is the food shopping and Christmas shopping. Far too many people seem to want to shop at the same time as me be it seven in the morning or seven at night!
        My wife has this uncanny knack of starting in a supermarket with a list and always, and I mean always forgetting something in the farthest corner no just once but several times each time we go shopping together.
        Maybe its different in your neck of the woods but here most people seem to dig through all the packets of meat for the one at the bottom of the pile. I asked my wife to start at the bottom once but then she chose the one at the top of the pile so nothing was gained there, LOL.
        I guess I'm just not a happy shopper, at least that,s what my wife says.
        I am a person who if we have a food list with say twentyfive items on it then go into the supermarket, get the items on the list and get out of there whereas my wife is a person who gets the twentyfive items on the list then wants to look at the other five thousand, hahaha.

        • Dave Parrack
          December 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

          Ah, got you. I must admit I tend to avoid shopping this close to Christmas. I made the mistake of heading to my nearest town last Saturday and it was a sea of people.

          Strangely I sound more like your wife and my girlfriend is similar to you. A little role reversal there. I love browsing in supermarkets as how do you know there isn't some great new product lurking on a shelf you won't ever have put on your list!

  13. Muo TechGuy
    December 7, 2012 at 10:23 am

    This year, my entire Christmas shopping was done on Amazon, and, in that order of amount. Amazon has everything, but AliExpress is fantastic for getting clothes custom made at rock bottom prices, though shipping from China takes a while so you do need to get it all done in advance. I'm more than happy to see the death of the dreary UK highstreet, where everything is overpriced, shop assistants don't want to serve you, and the writhing mass of people with their permanent Lynx odour and physics-defying hooped earrings is just overpowering.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      I don't want to see the high street die, but bricks-and-mortar stores are going to have to evolve or die. I do agree on the general atmosphere you'll encounter out and about though ;)

  14. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    December 7, 2012 at 6:01 am

    I prefer to shop offline because my address is extremely hard to search and post office here is very unreliable. I've several packages sent to me since months ago and they never arrive, even though the sender has tried to send me for the second time. For now, it's still a big no-no.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      Where are you based, if you don't mind me asking? Do you wish you had the opportunity to buy online more than you do?

      • Lisa Santika Onggrid
        December 12, 2012 at 6:56 am

        I don't mind. Indonesia, spesifically Pekanbaru. Bigger cities such as the capita Jakarta or most towns on Java island are already following the trend, however. I do want to have more opportunity to do online shopping, because it's more convenient and there are wider array of items I can find.

  15. Timothy Liem
    December 7, 2012 at 4:19 am

    I just browse and search for the products I want (to find the specs and the price range) and buy them offline in shopping areas.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      So you browse online but buy offline? Is there any particular reason for that?

      • Timothy Liem
        December 11, 2012 at 3:02 am

        I do. most online reseller or shop here, in Indonesia requires us to have bank account or credit card, and some of them are not trustworthy. so I prefer to buy the stuffs I want by cash. not to mention the bad shipping service. not only once or twice I read in the newspaper (reader's mail section) about the complains about the lost of packages, although it surely reduced day after day due to the improvements made by the shipping companies.

        • Dave Parrack
          December 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm

          I guess I take consumer protection for granted here in the UK. At least the situation seems to be improving. Thanks for responding :)

        • Timothy Liem
          December 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm

          You're welcome :D

  16. ncoutlander
    December 7, 2012 at 3:47 am

    In order to keep things simple, I use the 4S's in selecting my gifts. 1. Something to Wear. 2. Something to Read 3. Something you Want. 4. Something you need. Not everyone gets all 4, however those who are are closest to me do. Now I never forget what I should get when I stick to the 4S's. I don't know who came up with the idea originally, but I'm very thankful they shared. The friends and family who post wish list or email list make accomplishing gift buying easier. Generally I try to do all my shopping online via Amazon, Walmart, Costo etc. I use the website to see the deals multiple stores are offering. Other sites I check are and Even though most of my gift shopping is done online, I still like to go out for my Surprise Gag gifts on Christmas eve, I love the rush of Christmas Eve.

    • Dave Parrack
      December 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      The 4 S's is a great idea. I find it intriguing that you shop online early and then go out on Christmas Eve. Most people would rather avoid that horrible last-minute rush!

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