Stores are closed in Quebec on New Year’s day, so what do we do? Like many other loyal Quebecers, we head to the United States to do some New Year’s day bargain shopping. For our family, we choose nearby Burlington, Vermont for this indulgence.  So, we drag the entire family off for this expedition. Problem is, my oldest son (12 years old) hates shopping and we have to bribe him with special treatment, special treats, and special conditions in order to lure him along. As we are driving to our destination, the following conversation ensued:

SON: Why do we have to go shopping at all?

WIFE: To buy stuff we need. If we didn’t shop, how do you think you would have the clothes we wear. Its something we have to do.

SON: Yeah, but you enjoy shopping.

WIFE: No! We do not like shopping either, but there are things we need and we have to shop for them. We are not just shopping for pleasure, we are looking for the specific things we need.

SON: Then why does it take so long? If you know exactly what we need, why not just walk into the store and buy it?

WIFE: Its not that simple. We have to browse, compare prices, try it on?

SON: Why not do all of that online?

WIFE: Er, um, er, um….because we still have to try on stuff, compare prices, checkout the clearance racks, and I did do all my research online first, but we still need to go and check it out.

End of conversation.

As we arrived at the mall, and I saw a near full parking lot, crowds in the stores, and people bustling through the mall, and that conversation really got me thinking….

We, and a few other Quebec families, that went together on this expedition consider ourselves quite tech savvy, as we were texting, pinning, and IM’ing each other back and forth about where we were, where the best bargains could be found, and where we should meet up for lunch. Yet, with all this technical ability we were all still out shopping in physical stores rather than online!

Why do we still shop in stores? Why can’t we do ALL of our shopping online.

As we shopped through the day, I noticed a few things that still lack from the online shopping expereince:

  1. Clearance racks - rummaging through clearance racks and tables to find those single items left over in your size at a bare bone price is an experience that is difficult to duplicate. There is a real pleasure in finding that real bargain item, and then later bragging to your friends about the wonderful treasures found.
  2. Trying stuff on - Grab 10 items, try them all on quickly, discard the items that do not fit or look good, and purchase the rest. It is difficult to do this online. Sure, you can return stuff that you don’t like or doesn’t fit, but it is a lot simpler to just leave those items in the store.
  3. Experience - Some stores still have an experience worth visiting.
  4. Social - People shop, walk, browse, and TALK together.
  5. Enjoyable - PSSST, don’t tell my son, we actually still like to shop. Its an activity, its an outing, and there are still some small parts we find enjoyable.

Until the online experience can duplicate all of the above, I think we will still see malls, stores, and people shopping for a long time to come. What is your experience regarding online shopping vs store shopping? Do you have different reasons for shopping in one channel vs the other?