If you hate the sensory overload of mall shopping, there’s no need to force yourself. Digital shopping has been a convenient alternative for years—all the more so now that most stores have their own apps.
Using an App for Shopping
Shopping apps are useful for buying more than gifts. Think about decorations, Christmas cards (even ecards), meal fixings—and regular grocery shopping, minus the crowds and overstimulating environments. Amy Barry, our BridgingApps Digital Marketing Lead, testifies to her personal experience with the Walmart: Shopping & Savings app:
“At any time of year, the Walmart app is great for caregivers; older adults; and individuals with mobility struggles, compromised immune systems, or store anxieties. I use it every week to shop for food and household products. The convenience of picking up an order or having it delivered saves time and energy; plus, the app helps me stick to my budget. With an online cart, I know exactly how much I am spending, and I avoid the in-store temptation toward adding unnecessary items.
“Besides creating shopping lists and placing orders with the app, it’s easy to re-order items we purchase often. Just go to your account and tap ‘Purchase history.’ Then you can find a past order and tap ‘Reorder all’ to add all the items to your cart. You can then add or remove items and adjust quantities.
“The app also makes it easy to return items or get a refund when needed—which isn’t often. The few times I’ve received a wrong quantity or size of item, it was due to user error. Just make sure you check the details carefully before submitting your order.”
(Additional tip from the writer’s personal experience: if you want anything sent to a hotel or other temporary address, be extra certain it will arrive within that time window. Stick to items currently in stock, and from the host store—not third-party vendors—to ensure things are delivered without a snag.)
Online Shopping vs. In-Store Shopping
For those asking, “Yes, but is online shopping really less stressful than in-store shopping?” … the only real answer is, “It depends.” If you’re trying to decide whether you should shop online, in person, or both, consider:
- Do you love the real-world holiday atmosphere of in-person shopping? If you enjoy the holiday-store experience for itself, that’s the best reason for going in person.
- Conversely, do you (or does anyone who will be with you) have crowd aversion, low frustration tolerance, or sensitivity to lights and loud noises? If so, this is a time of year when malls and large stores are better avoided. If you must go, choose a less busy hour.
- Do you have any immunocompromising conditions? If so, consider digital shopping as a health precaution.
- Are you buying gifts for someone you’ll be traveling to visit? If so, online shopping is the best way to send something directly to their home, and save yourself the trouble of transporting it.
- Where are you most prone to impulse purchases: in a physical store or on a website? (Considerations here include: the comparative ease of removing items from a virtual shopping cart; the number of “you may also like this” suggestions on an app/website vs. the many tempting items displayed in a physical store; how easily you can rationalize “nobody will know” when alone with your computer.) (Note: If impulse-buy temptations are a problem wherever you go, shop with an accountability partner—a frugal purchaser who can keep you in check.)
And, of course: Can you use digital shopping options without getting lost or hitting constant technical difficulties? Especially in those last-minute emergencies that seem to happen to everyone? A shopping app can be a welcome alternative to dashing out in the cold on short notice—or a learn-as-you-go experience that’s anything but low-stress. That in itself is reason enough to download apps for places you shop regularly, learn to use the search and shopping-cart features, and be clear on any extra charges/requirements for delivery.
In closing, remember not to make the holidays all about shopping. Save space for quiet time, family time, tree-trimming, cooking—even just taking in a “silent night.” When online shopping saves time for the most important things, that alone makes it worthwhile.