The rise of online shopping

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Mark Baker

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The trip to Harrogate was excellent. It was a superb opportunity to meet people and chat about their likes, dislikes and aspirations. It was certainly busy. This year’s show was a big success with increased numbers. I always say that one of the last things to go out of the window in the teeth of an economic downturn. Now, whether people spent much money is another issue. All I can tell is that there were plenty of people carrying bags around with goodies in them and many people had an armful of boxes. I think the main aspects of shows is that people can see items in the flesh, use them and ask questions, which is not practicable with some other routes of shopping – namely online stores.

The number of calls I get from people bemoaning the demise of their local stockist of woodworking products and how it is hard now to get items. Many of the local stores have gone out of business because of lack of trade so it begs the comment that they are handy, but not being supported. It is true that some have closed due to people retiring, but if they were sustainable businesses some would have been bought. The simple fact is many people now shop online, although in the UK about 35% of the club members say they do not use the Internet. So do they use a friend to order items or travel further to get bits and bobs, or are suffering as a result of no local outlets? The Net has changed the way we shop. Yes, bargains can be had from such sources and the primary reason is that the overheads are lower as they do not have to hold onto the amount of stock that shops may have to, and they only require space for storage and despatching items so they can pass on those savings. Yes, they usually have great websites, but in truth so do most successful retail outlets now, so there is no difference there. The downside is that often the companies have no facility to pop down and have a look at something before you purchase it.

The Net is here to stay and eventually it will be nigh on impossible not to undertake a significant amount of purchases, banking transactions, booking of holiday and insurance, etc. without it. We can already see the push towards it. The woodworking stockists are just a facet of that creep. I do not think it bad, it is different, and we are still adjusting to the quake that is occurring as our shopping habits change. But I do so like to pick something up and handle it before parting with my money.

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