GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - In the middle of the holiday shopping season, the competition is on between online sites and regular brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Online sites are pulling out all the stops to get you to sit and shop and avoid the crowds.
For example, Amazon just started an $8 per month fee for its Amazon Prime delivery service, so you don't have to drop $79 up front for a yearly subscription. And ShopRunner, which has partnerships with 70 retailers, offers free return shipping.
But shoppers should be cautious. Grand Valley State University Marketing Professor Jennifer Pope said although online shopping is almost always more convenient, it can come with risks.
"There are some cons. Counterfeit is a lot easier to do online because you can't see the goods first and try them out, so there are some incidents of people inadvertently buying a counterfeit good of what they thought might be a very good luxury good," she said.
Brick-and-mortar stores have online sites, too, and they're stepping up to compete.
For the first time during a holiday season, Meijer is offering free shipping to the store.
Shopper Andrea McFarland already took advantage of that.
"On Black Friday, we got home and laid in bed and I was so excited because I put in an order online and use PayPal, so I didn't even have to get out of the bed to use my credit card," she said.''''
In October, Walmart started testing same-day delivery on certain items in a handful of cities across the country.
And nearly 1,000 merchants are participating in Free Shipping Day 2012 on Dec. 17.
For some, old-fashioned shopping is simply the way to get into the holiday spirit.
"The lights, the decorations, get you into the spirit rather than sitting in front of a computer all by yourself," said shopper Barbara Plachecki.
According to a recent Nielsen survey, 68% of consumers surveyed said online shopping is "easiest," while only 20% said in-store shopping is easiest.
68% of those surveyed also said online shopping is "most convenient. 59% said it is their overall "favorite" way to shop.
But old-time shopping has some pros, too, 69% saying it is "most reliable" and 77% saying it is "safest."
Free Shipping Day
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