Christmas shopping can be seen as an absolute thrill and to some extent, as a necessary evil. It's a thrill to be out and about amid the sights and sounds of the season and the jovial crowds. But for the same reasons, others dread shopping at Christmas time. These days, you don't have to leave your home much or at all to get your Christmas and holiday shopping done. That's because the Internet puts shopping at your fingertips. And rather than competing with traditional retail stores, the Internet has actually expanded the ability of traditional stores to sell more merchandise to a larger number of people in various locations.
Both large and small retailers can be found at their specialized Web sites on the Internet. Most will also offer selections that can be found in the store. Many times online retail sites will have additional items available, or access to additional items, that aren't found in the store.
Another advantage of shopping by the Internet is that it offers access to stores that are located anywhere. It's therefore becomes easier to order a unique gift from niche or specialty boutique stores in locations that you otherwise wouldn't be able to reach. It is also easy to do comparison shopping using 'shop bots' or simply comparing prices yourself.
If Christmas shopping is done through the Internet, you have to pay careful attention to the order times and any cutoff dates to get an item delivered in time for Christmas. Based on anticipated volume, most sites will give a date or the number of hours within which orders have to be confirmed for guaranteed delivery of the items before Christmas.
The mall is a popular place for traditional Christmas and holiday shopping to be done. Malls offer one-stop shopping and have a large variety and wide selection of merchandise, which can minimize endless searching of several stores for some items. They will also be beautifully decorated for Christmas, have splendid displays and a Santa Claus to interact with children. These and other activities that are usually at the mall during Christmas and the holidays also make them an interesting place to take children to enjoy some of the season's delights.
To maximize shopping at the mall, you'll need to know the differences between the mall department stores. You'll need to find out which stores have certain exclusive brands, which stores are moderately priced and which are more upscale.
There are also the specialty standalone stores and spin-off store branches for children and teenagers that seek to fill a particular niche. As an example, stores have emerged that carry only styles related to hip-hop culture or styles that have an 'urban' look. So it may be worth consideration to start your shopping at a specialty store, because they are more focused, and then continue at a department store that has a wider selection.
Another interesting place to shop at malls are the standalone kiosks that are usually located at intervals in the open areas of a mall where there is a lot of foot traffic. These kiosks are more likely to carry one-of-a kind and unique items, which can even provide or inspire ideas for Christmas presents.
Also at malls will be specialized that offer home/household items, books, music and movies, electronics, sports gear and shoes.
All of the types of mall stores previously mentioned can also be found at Outlet or Factory Malls or Warehouses, which offer lower prices. These stores often carry clearance items from their related mall store, merchandise with minor flaws and merchandise that is made for the outlet. Those merchandise usually have slight style variations from what is found in mall stores and may also be made from different materials.
A final place to consider for Christmas shopping is downtown businesses. They are usually small and intimate, have unique offerings and offer more personalized assistance. Although downtown businesses are also likely to be crowded at Christmas time, there likely will be less of a crush of people like that found at malls.