I have to say, shopping has always been my “sport”!  I have trained for upcoming shopping excursions, kept my budget “in shape” for such occasions and worked with my shopping “team” when needed!  I can’t take all the credit for any successes I may have had in this area, my mother is the one who taught me everything I know about finding a good bargain, and I have tried my best to stay on top of things as the shopping world has changed over the last 10 years or so. 

There are several ways you can approach your shopping duties this holiday season, or any shopping season for that matter, I have just listed a few with the pros and cons of each type.  I hope that I can pass on some of the wisdom I have learned from my mother and my experiences with this engaging “sport”!  

Social Shopping – This is the type of shopping you do with a friend or groups of friends or family.  It is a very laid back type of shopping which usually involves a delicious lengthy lunch.  This type may have a list of items you need to actually purchase, or it may not. This shopping trip can last all day, so wear your comfortable (cute) shoes!
Pros: This type of shopping is really about bonding with your friends or family members and not really about shopping.  It can be good on your wallet in that a lot of window shopping happens more than actual purchasing of items. It’s a time to make memories.
Cons: If you really need to get serious shopping accomplished, this shopping trip is probably not going to make that happen.  When several people are together, usually everyone has to compromise on what store is next and there is a lot of time spent on distractions by others with sayings such as:  “look at this!” “that is adorable!” “I would so wear that if I were still in my 20s…” as well as many many more.  It’s great to do a shopping trip of this nature every so often, but, even though window shopping is mostly done, it’s also the trip people tend to make impulse purchases which might NOT be good for your budget!

Strategic Shopping – This type of shopping is serious and straight to the point.  It begins with planning which stores to go to by certain times of the day (because of crowding or traffic or busy-ness of the store). You may have coupons for certain items or an ad or two to make sure you get the exact gift you are shopping for.  If a certain store doesn’t have that, you move on to the next and so on.  There is definitely a list and a purpose to this type of shopping. 
Pros: This is a good way to get things accomplished.  Following a list helps keep you and your time in check and usually your wallet is prepared as well.
Cons: For the optimum Strategic Shopping Experience, it’s best done ALONE or with one friend or family member that is no nonsense as well or you will not get your list finished.  It CAN involve lunch if your list is long, but, a burger in the car on the way to the next shop is usually the best bet as far as time goes, which can be a problem on one’s tummy. This kind of shopping can be satisfying, when you find everything on your list–but it can also be frustrating when you don’t.

Online Shopping – This is something my mother didn’t do.  She hated to wait when she ordered things from catalogs, however, with 2 day shipping and easy returns she may have enjoyed Amazon quite a bit! It’s a shame she didn’t get that chance. 
Pros: This type of shopping is great because it doesn’t matter what the weather is, what you are wearing, what time of day it is or whether there is food involved or not!  You can comfortably do it whenever you want–and follow a list (or not) and comparison shop with a click of a mouse!  That wasn’t so easy when you had to go from store to store! My husband and I shop this way together for Christmas (each on our own devices) and tell the other what we have found for what person.  Bonding can still happen with this type of shopping! My daughter and I did some Cyber Monday shopping one year and talked on the phone when we got certain things done.  It was great to hear what deals she got and vice versa!
Cons: You don’t get the “hands on” experience with the items like you do at a store.  Sometimes an item’s color may look one way and not be that way at all.  Sometimes things end up “out of stock” when they were clearly on the page.  Also, some places may be hard to return an item too, so you need to read the fine print before you buy something. The worst thing is when something doesn’t get delivered when you are told it will be–especially when it’s a gift for someone.  

As the years go on, there is no way to tell how shopping will evolve and what will still be the way to go or not.  Some people will still love it and others will still hate it.  For me, it’s a necessary task that can be made fun if you want it to be.  I have had some wonderful trips with my sisters and friends that all involved shopping. I have a lot of amazing memories shopping with my mother–I missed that time with her a lot when she got ill.  It wasn’t about the things we got, it was about being together and accomplishing a purpose. Bottom line is this: the best way to shop is whatever is best for you; finding that and doing it is the TRUE art of shopping!

Until Next Time!

Jen Lush–Associate Broker and Managing Broker’s Mother

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORSĀ®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.