I’ve almost finished buying gifts for everyone and I suddenly realised I hadn’t entered an actual shop. This year Amazon have almost completely fulfilled the festive shopping which can clearly put a big dent in high street sales. So why is this?

Ads on sites

Many websites have pop-up ads to entice you with special offers and instant discounts but these cover the content and instantly put me off. To make things worse, it seems that once a site has decided to have intrusive ads they go all out and include automatically playing video, newsletter signups, or even the dreaded auto-play audio.

These techniques not only send visitors scrambling for the back button but put them off from ever coming back. Not forgetting the mobile user who may be paying extra data charges simply for the privilege of having unwanted advertisements displayed.

Online shopping

Convenience is the most obvious reason that Christmas, or any, shopping is done online. It is now possible to ask someone what they would like for their birthday or the holidays and quickly order it so you don’t forget, all while pretending to have a casual conversation so they you can keep the gift a surprise.

The likes of Amazon use employ the use of shopping lists but, more than that, they track which products you have viewed and provide related suggestions. This is almost like an automatic, seemingly endless, shopping list of items that most likely will interest you.

Weather, Items, Location

Who really wants to be wandering around in the cold trying to carry gifts for the whole family? It’s just not possible to do in a single trip. What happens if you get out to your car and drop something breakable? How much time do you really want to spend travelling to a crowded place to choose from a limited selection and then fight your way back home through traffic? Physical shops lose out to the comfort of online shopping but always win in one important way: You can pick up and look at the potential gift.

Being able to touch, play with, sometimes open, or try on different items can help ensure you get the perfect present for that special someone so there are no disappointments on the day. In most shops you can usually find an assistant who will be willing to help and try to answer any questions you have about the product. The staff may not be able to beat the wider Internet on technical questions but that’s why you have a smartphone.


Physical shops are unlikely to ever disappear but I think many would benefit from greater integration with the likes of Amazon, PayPal, or other services that can let them establish an online presence. The bigger names in the street have already done so but spare a thought for the small shops and maybe, if you can, take a visit and see what specialities they’re hiding in their offline world.