Costs and benefits of internet shopping

The biggest rise in 24-hour shopping is the rise of the internet. This makes it possible for people to engage in retailing without even having to set foot in a retail park, shop or supermarket. Every item, from clothing to groceries, household goods such as televisions to garden sheds can be ordered online.

The number of adults buying online has risen from 25 per cent in 2003 to around 50 per cent in 2008 to 75 per cent in 2016. Around 25 per cent of purchases are made using a mobile phone.

Benefits of internet shopping

  • Convenience - shop from any computer or mobile phone with an internet connection any time, while avoiding the need to travel, pay for parking and queueing.
  • Greater variety - more shops online than any high street or retail park.
  • Cheaper goods - increased competition between retailers, for some on a global scale, brings down prices.
  • Accessibility - those with a disability that limits their mobility can choose to have goods delivered.
  • Comparability - using the internet makes it easy to research products or services very thoroughly, comparing prices and product details in order to get the best deal.

Costs of internet shopping

  • Security concerns surrounding payment by credit card over the internet.
  • Not being able to physically inspect the goods before purchase.
  • Goods getting damaged during transport.
  • Goods not arriving in time or at all.
  • Concerns over what information retailers are storing about customers, eg buying habits.
  • Fewer people visiting the CBD, high street and retail parks.
A row of empty retail premises on a street in Margate, England.
A deserted high street - the consequence of out-of-town retail parks and internet shopping