Online shopping taking over


Marissa Mauceri, Staff Writer

Online shopping has exploded in popularity and is starting to take business away from actual brick and mortar stores.  Consumers, drawn by the convenience of shopping from home and ever-faster shipping speeds, have started to pour more and money into online purchases.

According to, “Men and women both report spending 5 hours per week shopping online.” People shop online so much that it is forcing big stores and malls to close. Of course everyone knows about Toys “R” Us going bankrupt and closing down, but there are several other chains that closed down many of their stores. For example, Sears and Kmart closed 421 of their stores from 2017 to January 2018; JC Penney’s closed 138 of their stores; and iconic retailer H.H. Gregg went out of business, among many others. Some business like Bebe are closing their brick and mortar stores but still staying online.  

While some individual stores are closing, malls are closing also. According to an article by Time, “There are still about 1,100 malls in the U.S. today, but a quarter of them are at risk of closing over the next five years, according to estimates from Credit Suisse.”  

So why are so many people shopping online? Consumers don’t have to pay for gas, can easily compare prices, and gain more variety (since stores can’t carry large quantities of each size and color in every style).  Consumers also don’t have to worry about what time the stores open and close, which makes it ideal for those with busy schedules.

Special attractions like Cyber Monday, the online version of Black Friday, and online-only deals spark customer interest.  Many have been attracted to Amazon’s Prime membership, which offers free two-day shipping on millions of items.  Amazon had 300 million users in 2017, and 90 million of those paid the annual fee for Prime membership.  The average Amazon Prime customer spent more than $600 o the site in 2017.

But there is always another side. What cons could there be to such a seemingly perfect system? Shoppers can’t see the product physically or try it on, have to wait for the product to arrive, must usually extra for for shipping, and, the most concerning, put oneself at risk for online fraud.  

In addition to traditional online shopping, there has also been an emergence of online luxury consignment like Poshmark, The Real Real, and Tradesy.  Rent the Runway allows users to borrow glamorous gowns for special occasions–mailing them back when finished with them. Services like Stitch Fix, Tog And Porter, and Trunk Club send users carefully picked outfits based on the customer’s style and preferences.  Whatever the customer doesn’t like can be sent back, typically in a pre-paid envelope.  The convenience is too tempting for many.

And this idea of convenience extends to grocery shopping as well.  Locally, Costco, Heinens, and Giant Eagle allow shoppers to fill a virtual cart online, then personal shoppers do the actual shopping and deliver the goods to the customer’s car curbside or even to their front door for a bigger charge.

With the convenience of shopping at people’s fingertips, it’s no wonder actual stores are finding it difficult to compete.  If the popularity of online shopping continues to increase, expect to see more empty malls and closed stores as the piles of boxes on your neighbors’ front porches steadily grow.