23 Reasons Why Online Shopping is Better Than High Street Shopping

23 Reasons Why Online Shopping is Better Than High Street Shopping
I think I’m going to divide opinion with this post: I think that online shopping is the absolute best thing since sliced bread. I’ve been shopping online since the late 90s, back when ASOS was known as “As Seen On Screen” and Amazon sold books – and that was about it. I often wonder whether fashion, beauty, crafting, lifestyle or, indeed, any blogs would exist without online shopping. Reading a rave review about a fantastic make-up primer/cute embroidered top from Topshop/can’t-live-without-it Nutribullet and then being able to order it online within the space of a few minutes is an absolute miracle in my book.

However, when I tell people I do about 95% of my shopping online (not just clothes but groceries, toiletries and household appliances, along with just about everything else), I often get a reaction of “oh I like to see what I’m buying”. Or, “I don’t want to make an expensive mistake”.

High street shopping can be just as, if not more, hit-and-miss as online shopping. Clothes often look different when you get them home. In those instances you’re far more likely to put them in your wardrobe and leave them there unworn, tags still intact, than to return them for a refund. Not everyone is the same, I know that, but when I’m given reasons for why high street shopping is better, they just don’t stack up when you look at all the reasons why online shopping is just so brilliant.

I’ve only ever been given two basic arguments for high street shopping:

“I like to feel the clothes.”

Okay, but I’m not going to sacrifice half my weekend dragging myself round the shops just to see what cotton trousers feel like (I kind of know already).

“I just like going round the shops.”

I’ll give you this one… You either do like going round the shops, or you don’t. I’m the latter – for all 23 of the reasons below. These reasons only apply to shopping for clothes; I get that garden plants or a new mattress for your bed really have to be bought in-store. Nevertheless – gird your loins for an online shopping rally, high street lovers!

Why Online Shopping is Better Than High Street Shopping:

  1. You can try everything on in the comfort of your own home, in a flattering mirror and at your own pace.
  2. You can try on what you’ve ordered with anything else in your wardrobe to see if it works.
  3. There’s no embarrassment of “coming out of the changing room”.
  4. You don’t have to take up half a day looking for one skirt when there are so many other (more exciting) things you could be doing with your time.
  5. You can see how something hangs and fits better than trying to see what things are like when they’re hanging sideways on a rack in-store.
  6. You can take a flattering photo of yourself to see how it looks on (no wide-angle selfies in a changing room mirror) and take the time to upload it and view it objectively on a computer screen.
  7. You don’t have to drag your husband/boyfriend/partner along or feel guilty while they’re waiting outside the changing room for you.
  8. You can search 10 different shops for the perfect pair of trousers in the space of 20 minutes by narrowing your search by style, size, colour, etc.
  9. You can try on new things from different shops all in one go together to create a complete outfit.
  10. There’s no queuing for the changing rooms or queuing to pay.
  11. You can order through online cashback websites like http://topcashback.co.uk or http://quidco.com and make money back (I’ve earned nearly £2,000 cashback over the last few years doing this).
  12. You can search for and use online discount voucher codes to save even more money.
  13. Most (good) websites offer free delivery and free returns so there’s no extra cost.
  14. You don’t have to pay for transport, petrol or car park charges or rush back before your car park ticket runs out.
  15. You’re unlikely to “come back empty handed” and get depressed about it.
  16. You don’t have to decide to keep what you’ve bought straight away – you usually have up to 30 days to decide.
  17. You won’t make bad decisions because you bought something in a hurry and now you can’t be bothered to return it (it’d mean another trip back to the shops).
  18. You can shop at midnight on a whim if you feel like it.
  19. You can get sale alerts for your favourite items from sites like http://shopstyle.com so you can buy them as soon as they’re discounted.
  20. You can keep a check on the total value of your basket as you go and remove things you really shouldn’t be buying (online shopping also means less chance of impulse buying).
  21. You don’t have to carry loads of heavy bags round the shops and get “shopping elbow” or “shopping shoulder”.
  22. If your item is discounted within your returns period, you can order it again and return the new item on the first order to get your discount. I do this all the time because things are always discounted (or you’re offered a discount code) just after you buy them. Known as Sod’s Shopping Law.
  23. Because getting a whole bunch of parcels delivered is like Christmas. Nuff said.
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I know people (women mostly) love the act of shopping, but I’m just not one of them. Don’t get me started on shopping at Christmas time: My idea of absolute hell. Christmas was made for online shopping. Or was online shopping made for Christmas…?

I’d rather go into town to have a nice relaxing lunch, people watch, and then do some leisurely window shopping, if I feel like it. If I do see something I like, however, I rarely go into the shop to buy it. I’ll just look it up when I get home and order it then. What I’m looking for is simple:

Speed. Free delivery. Discount vouchers. Cashback.

Check, check, check – and check.

The question is of course: Are you an online shopper or a high street shopper? What are your reasons for each? Do share in the comments!
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P.S. Like this post? You might also enjoy Can You Wear Leather Trousers Over the Age of 40?

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  1. 8 March 2021 / 7:23 am

    I’ve bought solely online for years. I don’t have the time or inclination to go into stores. But 3 things bother me. Some retailers send returns to landfill becaue it’s more expensive and time consuming to repackage clothes. Plus a lot of people abuse the system and return clothes after they’ve worn them. And thirdly, the recent collapse of retail groups like Arcadia are extremely bad news for women. 125,000 jobs were lost in a week, mostly employing women, and there was hardly any of the media furore that surrounded the jobs of fishermen – who total 25000 in the whole of the UK.

  2. 16 December 2017 / 8:52 am

    Shopping for clothing online can e a hit or miss, especially when going with some of the discount sites, but following these rules can save you a lot of hassle in your journey to save money. Online shopping Pakistan

  3. 30 November 2016 / 7:02 am

    So nice of you to share so much of information. I feel so happy to find such a quality article over the internet.

  4. 13 June 2016 / 5:03 am

    I haven’t been in a supermarket for 4 years since I placed my first order for home delivery and I have probably been to “normal” shops maybe 5 times in 2 years.

  5. 18 July 2015 / 1:43 pm

    Catherine, would you consider doing a blog post on goos online shops to start shopping at. Which have easy returns, consistent sizing, accurate photos/descriptions? I am sure I am missing out on some good sites 🙂 Thanks!

    • 27 July 2015 / 1:14 pm

      I'll definitely have a think about it, Nellie – but I think that just my POV may be a little limited…? I think it'll be one that I ask other bloggers to contribute to, so I'll have a think and hopefully schedule it in! Thank you for the request/suggestion! x

  6. 12 July 2015 / 6:49 pm

    Hang on : 4 doesn't apply as you have to browse through the internet too, to find that one skirt. You are going to say it is faster online. It probably is.
    11 is interesting. Never heard of that.
    Had to laugh over 22. And for your information. This tric also applies to real stores: my stepdaughter just tells the girl at the counter: what do you prefer? That I return this and then get the same from the rack at a discount? Or are you going to give me the money difference?" Haha. She always gets the difference paid back.
    But you are talking to the wrong person. I LOVE shopping old school.

    • 18 July 2015 / 1:42 pm

      Oh I'm not denying that browsing online does take time, Greetje – it's just that searching one department store online for all their black skirts (maxi length, size X, price X) takes a minute or so, whereas if you tried to do that same search in an actual department store it could take you an hour+, depending on the size of the store…!

      And your stepdaughter sounds like me with her money saving skills!! A girl after my own (penny-pinching) heart…!

      And it's great that you're a person that enjoys shopping itself – I'm just not one of them 😉 hehe

  7. 8 July 2015 / 5:02 am

    Hi Catherine, I just have to join in your shopping debate, as you have omitted to cover one huge area of shopping which doesn't match up when done online – charity shops. I do about 90% of my clothes shopping in charity shops and have tried to do it online with very little success. The joy of charity shopping is the trophy or prize element of the finds. Take for example my Jean Paul Gaultier splash crop jeans – these amazing little beauties were hardly worn and only cost me £6.95! Nowhere online would I be able to come across a find like this. I'm constantly picking up pieces that have " just been dropped in today" which is such a buzz. I live on a remote island off the end of Cornwall and ought to be the ideal candidate for online shopping, but I don't want to run with the crowd and wear the same as everyone else. I love buying vintage items and unusual brands and styling them in my own way. I see online shopping as the way of the uninspired, and frankly for those who aren't really passionate about personal style. Give me a charity shop any day, supplemented with a few choice pieces from TKMAXX and I'll show you some really individual dressing. I recently posted a piece called "A shopping spree and a highland wedding" which shows my loot from just one wonderful day at my favourite charity shops – now that was my idea of Heaven!

    • 18 July 2015 / 1:34 pm

      I have to say I completely agree with you, Anna – but to me you can't compare because generally you cant buy from charity shops online (I know there's Oxfam but I'm talking your local charity shops). However, where I live the charity shops are generally awful, and I very rarely find anything in my size (it's all several sizes bigger than me). I have to travel a good 30+ miles to get a good choice of charity shops, and the cost of petrol and time travelling is something I can't afford (or justify). Because I also buy a lot of vintage from eBay I like to think that I don't end up looking like everyone else – to be honest I know I don't!! – but because I can shop online from so many different retailers that aren't to be found on the high street, I have to disagree that online shopping is for the uninspired… I think it's quite the opposite!

      Thank you though for your comments and support for the great charity shops out there (you're lucky that you have good ones)!

  8. 4 July 2015 / 3:16 pm

    Hi, Catherine! Thank you for you insights about online shopping. I, myself do it rarely, because of one big reason. I feel like there are too many choices on the internet and I get overwhelmed. And in the end that's why I don't buy anything. However, I am not so eager about shopping malls either. If that's possible I would love, love, love fast shopping! Go in, get what you need, and get out. 🙂 What a dream! 😉
    Have a great weekend!

    • 18 July 2015 / 1:09 pm

      On the very rare occasions that I do into the shops, Madara, I too like the "lightning dash" as I call it. I arm myself with a list, in the right order for the shops as they are in the high street, and do it as fast as possible. I always want to get home and get on with other things…!!

  9. 4 July 2015 / 10:39 am

    Great list! I get shopping pain in the back/neck as well, much nicer doing it from home! The only aspect of online shopping I don't enjoy is the returns queue at the post office! (I know some places collect returns but then you are waiting in so same difference). BUT it doesn't put me off, I love having the time to be leisurely about picking out things, even though ASOS feels daunting sometimes with the amount of choice I do love it! Plus the sales online are generally much better for having more sizes in stock. 🙂 xo

  10. 3 July 2015 / 10:06 pm

    I'm on online shopper, for clothes and most other things, especially Christmas gifts, although I haven't got around to do the grocery shopping online as yet, for some reason. I hate shopping in shops, all that wandering and looking then I come home without anything or worse, the wrong thing, because I don't want to feel I've wasted all that time. My town has a lot of charity shops with one or two decent shops, but nothing to really draw in the shopper, this could be due to the high rents, most properties seem to be owned by London companies and they charge London rents, which don't fit with the Northern budget, the parking charges are also high, even on Sunday's. The standard of service in some shops isn't up to par either and this annoys me, if they want my business they should work for it. I get the bit about doing people out of jobs, however my hatred of shopping wins every time. I love to feel the material, but it's rare that I order something online and feel disappointed with it, and I have high standards, the more I shop online the more successful I am at shopping online, practice makes perfect.

    • 18 July 2015 / 12:58 pm

      Sue you've summed up my thoughts exactly – you've summed up everything I wanted to say right there!!

  11. 3 July 2015 / 9:18 pm

    My idea of a 'shopping day' involves coffee and cakes, followed by visiting a couple of local shops and boutiques, then lunch, then cocktails.
    Online shopping is a much more purposeful event…precision shopping.
    One word of warning though….don't shop online after a glass (or two) of your favourite tipple. It can get messy!!

    • 18 July 2015 / 12:46 pm

      Haha I think I've managed to avoid tipsy shopping, Samantha!! So luckily I've not made any silly purchases like that. And I like your description of "precision shopping". It's the way I like to do ALL my shopping ;))

  12. 3 July 2015 / 1:30 pm

    I'm starting to get more into shopping online for clothes. I love doing my grocery shopping online, I detest supermarkets. I also do most of my Christmas shopping online in November so I feel very organised once December comes around and I don't have to fight the crowds.

    I like the idea of a relaxed lunch with friends and a spot of window shopping rather than need-to-find-that-black-skirt-because-I-have-a-job-interview-on-Monday kind of feeling.

    By the way, love your blog and your style.

    • 3 July 2015 / 9:19 pm

      I detest supermarkets too. Online for me (or send out husband/children to do the dirty work?!) x

    • 18 July 2015 / 12:44 pm

      Thank you first of all for the lovely compliment about the blog…! I agree about fighting crowds at Christmas – having to do xmas shopping in December is enough to test anyone's patience!!

  13. 3 July 2015 / 9:03 am

    It is interesting that you don't like shopping Catherine. As women we are supposed to "love" shopping, but I hate it, and so do nearly all my friends. I wonder what proportion of women actually enjoy it. Shopping for books however is a totally different matter. It has to be an independent bookshop or the library for me!

    • 18 July 2015 / 12:42 pm

      Yes to browsing in book stores, Nellie! Especially coffee table books. You can only really tell if you want to buy them if you by flicking through…!

  14. 3 July 2015 / 4:46 am

    I am with you Catherine, I prefer online shopping over browsing at stores. I am trying not to buy so much impulsive clothes shopping so that I don't have to do so many returns.

    Thank you for joining TBT Fashion link up and hope to see you next week. Have a great weekend!


  15. 3 July 2015 / 1:10 am

    Mmmm but what about supporting local independent retailers, if they are not supported they won't be there in the future to browse through. There is a place for online shopping but it ends up mostly supporting large corporates employing people far away, so there becomes even less choice locally.

    • 18 July 2015 / 12:37 pm

      The trouble with local independent retailers (for me) is that their choice and quality is pretty shocking. As I mentioned to someone on Facebook who mentioned the same thing, it's not unfortunately my responsibility to shop somewhere when their stock and service is abysmal just to keep them afloat. It's their responsibility to give me such a great service that I simply have to shop there, despite having to travel a long way to get there.

      I go out of my way to visit a great restaurant not just because the food is great but because the service makes it a great experience too. I could go to my local supermarket and get a posh ready meal, but I wont get the service or the experience. Shops need to do the same thing, but they don't…!

  16. 2 July 2015 / 9:07 pm

    Whilst I read your blog this is my first time commenting. I, too, am a committed online shopper, for all the reasons you described. If I had to add one more it would be this: online the world is your oyster – last week I took delivery of the Adora bag, in orange; I had fallen in love with it across several blogs and I was able to buy a dream bag that I had never actually even felt the need to examine first. It is perfect and I would never have found anything like it in a local shop. Give me online based shopping any day:-)

  17. 2 July 2015 / 9:05 pm

    Shopping online is great if you are looking for something specific and I do my fair share of it but I think I still prefer going direct to the store. Now if they could make it so as soon as I hit submit order it would arrive magically that instant then it would be perfect! I don't like to wait and I don't like to be excited to get something and it not fit me. I will always be open to online ordering but my heart remains in the real shop!

    • 5 July 2015 / 10:57 pm

      Again I think it depends on your situation, Wendy – I can only go to the shops on a Saturday (when my husband doesn't have the car) so if I want to shop, say, Sunday to Thursday I have to wait ages till I can go in. I can order from Asos any time till midnight and still get it next day – I find I'm too impatient to go the shops…!!!!

      I also find that just as much doesn't fit me in the shops. And it takes longer to find that out. However, I find my heart will remain in a real shop if I go in one because while I'm there someone has ripped it out and stomped all over it… All the time I'm wishing I were back home and trying things on in comfort, hehe!

      Thank you for your input – always great to hear how others think :))

  18. 2 July 2015 / 8:50 pm

    Um, I'm not sooo sure I'm swayed by all your points, Catherine! I'm a very kinesthetic person so I'm absolutely in the "I like to feel the clothes." camp! I can't wear clothes that feel uncomfortable on my skin even if they look stunning. I've so often been disappointed when buying clothes online to find that the fabric is actually hideous to the touch! Plus, there's the expense of delivery charges unless you do click and collect and not all places do that along with the faff of having to return items you don't want to keep!

    And many places use Hermes and frankly I find them terrible as a courier service. I've had packages thrown over my garden fence, exposed to the elements, and packages stuffed behind my bins even when I've seen the courier walk up my path to my front door and not even bother to ring the door bell to see if someone's home!

    On the plus side I do order many things online and quick delivery times have often saved my bacon with late Christmas and birthday presents so it's not all bad!

    • 5 July 2015 / 10:27 pm

      Hmm I very, very rarely find that places charge for delivery – but for me the faff of returning stuff to the post office is a fraction of the time it takes to do the shopping in the high street for the same amount of stuff! The time it takes me to browse 10 shops online is about… half an hour? 45 minutes? But that would take me the WHOLE of Saturday if I went to the shops!

      But I'll give you the Hermes thing. They are nearly always terrible, but I now have a local courier lady and know her by her first name I get so much stuff delivered, haha!!

      Thanks for your comments, always welcome!! x

  19. 2 July 2015 / 5:37 pm

    I live in a rural area of Hawaii where online shopping for groceries isn't available. I got used to doing that when I lived in Los Angeles and I miss it so much. I do order toilet paper, paper towels and every other household item I can think of from Amazon.com in bulk instead of filling up my car with that stuff when I go to town for groceries. I hate shopping for clothing in stores, not that it's an option here anyway. We have a Macy's and Target, and neither carries petite sizes in the stores. So this past week, I've bought most of my wardrobe for my upcoming trip online, as well as luggage, shoes and travel toiletries. (I'm going to a business conference where my daily wardrobe of yoga pants, sandals and t-shirts won't be appropriate). I sometimes have return an item here and there but it's rare.

    • 5 July 2015 / 10:21 pm

      I think the comments here prove that a lot of it depends on where you live and what's available to you, Marcy! I send an awful lot back but I purposely order a ton of stuff to try on – as if it's a changing room! I'm with you on the grocery shopping though. The only time I'm happy to do a weekly is with the click and scan things that you do yourself as you go round. You pack as you go and just pay at the end – not going through the till… I love it!

      Thank you for joining in the debate :))

  20. 2 July 2015 / 4:22 pm

    I totally agree – I also do almost all of my shopping online: I do enjoy a look round the shops when I have time, but I detest grocery shopping with a fiery passion, so I'm so glad the supermarkets all deliver now! I get a lot of really surprised reactions when I tell people I shop almost exclusively online, though, which always surprises me. I've had quite a few readers, for instance, tell me they're "terrified" to try it, and I just don't get that at all – I mean, most stores do free returns (and the ones that don't, you can normally find a discount code for anyway…), so it's not like there's a huge risk. I don't know if people maybe don't realise they can return things? Also, you're so right about things not always working out when you buy them from a store, either – I impulse-bought two lipsticks in Boots yesterday, and when I tried them on at home the colours looked totally different (and horrible on me!): if I'd been shopping online, I'd have spent ages looking at colour swatches and reading reviews – as it is, I'm now stuck with two hideous colours that I can't even return because I had to use them to try them!

    • 2 July 2015 / 4:43 pm

      Now I don't get the being afraid either, Amber – as I'm sure you're aware you have MORE rights when you buy online because of the consumer contracts regulations (replaces the old distance selling regulations). I *think* shops are allowed to refuse to give refunds and only offer credit notes in return, for example, but by law all online retailers have to allow customers to change their mind and therefore have to offer cancellation of the order within 7 days, so you still get your money back…?!!

      And I feel your pain about lipsticks!! It's one of the worst things to try and shop for, and again when in the shops I feel under pressure to make a decision quickly because otherwise you look creepy hanging around a make-up counter for more than about 2 minutes… 🙁

  21. 2 July 2015 / 3:41 pm

    I absolutely love online shopping for all of these reasons! I would also add to the list that I can find items online that simply are not available in the shops around me! I have a vast collection of maxi cardigans from ASOS that simply do not exist in the U.S. 🙂

    • 2 July 2015 / 4:33 pm

      Another great point, Zulaya: Choice. It's a brilliant thing. x

    • 2 July 2015 / 4:33 pm

      Oh gosh, crowds – I forgot that one, Angie!!!

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