It’s no secret the Internet has become a huge part of our everyday lives, but is that still the case when it comes to shopping?
Well, WAAY 31 decided to find out, so we went to Parkway Place Mall in Huntsville to see if online shopping has affected the sales of brick-and-mortar stores there.
“It just doesn’t go out of style to go shopping," said Marketing Director Molly Mitchell. "It’s something that people love to do.”
Mitchell told WAAY 31 it’s been a great year for Parkway Place Mall.
She told us, despite the competition of online shopping, the mall continues to thrive with sales and traffic on the rise.
“One of the biggest complaints you’ll hear around the holiday season is, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s just so busy and there’s not a spot for me.’ Well, that translates to thousands of people a day in the shopping center," Mitchell says.
Mitchell tells WAAY 31 the shopping center has 92 stores, making it easy for buyers to come in and find exactly what they need.
She says some of the most popular stores are pop-up shops by local artisans, like Mary Kathryn Designs, which is available online as well.
“I love doing in-person sales because I’m able to meet my customers that order online and help them pick out things in person that maybe they wouldn’t normally have liked if they had seen it online, and they’re able to try things on and see how it really looks in person," local jewelry designer Mary Kathryn Martinson says.
Martinson says she has more of a variety of items for her customers in her physical store, and she says sales are better in person because of buyers spreading the word to their friends.
“Word of mouth helps get people in store versus online, too," Martinson said.
According to a recent study done by the International Council of Shopping Centers, shoppers tend to buy more when they’re in stores rather than on the computer.
“When you’re online, you know exactly what you want sometimes so you’re able to go get that one item, get it shipped to your homeb but when you go into a store, you’re touching, you’re feeling, you’re trying on, and you get that experience with it, and sometimes you leave with a bag full of things versus the one item," Mitchell said.
Parkway Place Mall tells WAAY 31 it is happy to share that online shopping has not affected their sales.
In fact, they say they’re seeing better numbers than ever before.
With this information, WAAY 31 decided to ask around and see whether buyers prefer to visit a physical store or order from home during what most consider the busiest shopping time of year.
Many people told WAAY 31 they choose online shopping because they say it’s faster and more convenient, or they simply don’t want to face the crowds; but an overwhelming amount of people say they still prefer to check out what they’re buying in person.
“To get in the holiday spirit, it’s nice to get out and go shopping somewhere," says shopper, James McAllister. "You could sit and do it online, but it’s really not much of a holiday spirit, sitting there, looking at images on a screen.”
McAllister says he likes shopping in store, not just for the material things, but for the time he gets to spend with his loved ones.
And he’s not the only one who appreciates in-store shopping.
“Now we’re coming here just to shop and have fun and make some new memories," said shopper Sarah Peyton Olive.
But according to some shoppers, socializing isn’t the main reason they chose brick-and-mortar stores, especially at this time of the year.
Instead, they want to know that what they’re getting will arrive in time.
“Shopping online, you don’t always, you’re not guaranteed it being here before Christmas," said shopper Kayla Kilpatrick. "And, at the mall, if they have the same thing you’re looking for, and it’s probably the same price, just go ahead and come get it and fight all the traffic.”
“Instant gratification knowing that you’ve got the item you want, and can take it home with you and know it’s there, and not have to worry about it being shipped on time for Christmas," McAllister added.
And most importantly, buyers say they like to be able to touch and try items out before they actually buy them, making sure they get exactly what they’re paying for.
“Honestly, trying on the things or seeing it physically versus shopping online and saying ‘ooh, I like this’ and then you get it and you’re like ‘oh, this is not what I was looking for," Olive said.
Some shoppers told WAAY 31 they prefer online shopping when they’re in a hurry, or don’t feel like getting dressed and driving to the store; but most agreed it’s about the experience, traditions, and the time they get to spend with loved ones that makes them choose in-store shopping this time of year.
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