Survey: Many consumers turn to the Internet to fill shopping needs

Some shopping Web sites have mended glitches to enable smoother navigation.

Nikki Wee

Never-ending lines, pushy crowds ” getting the perfect holiday gift for a loved one isn’t always easy. But while some will be battling the elements, others will be sitting in the comforts of their home, doing their shopping in front of a computer.

Shopping online is growing in popularity and has become easier for holiday shoppers this season. Many University students are relying on the Internet to save time and avoid lines.

A recent survey by Circuit City of more than 4,000 people showed that online shopping is becoming more popular with consumers. Sixty-seven percent of survey participants cited the convenience of shopping at home as one of their favorite things about shopping online.

The survey also reported that 37 percent of those surveyed will do more holiday shopping online this year in comparison with last year.

Amanda Tate, a spokeswoman for Circuit City, said online shopping is growing in popularity.

Circuit City launched its online store in 1999. Since then, it has redesigned and upgraded several times, she said.

First-year student Sonya Ewert usually makes purchases at the mall. However, she will avoid long lines and big crowds this year by doing most of her shopping on the Web.

“Since I have to rely on public transportation this year, I’d rather do my shopping online,” Ewert said. “It’s faster than taking the light rail to the mall.”

In 1999, the Daily published an article about students who were frustrated with online shopping.

Despite the boom in Internet shopping that occurred during the 1998 holiday season, glitches in the system “left customers frustrated and irritated,” the article reported.

Some complaints included poor customer service, out-of-stock merchandise, failed orders and deliveries that came too late for the holidays, according to the 1999 article.

Today, online shopping sites, such as Circuit City and MSN Shopping have redesigned their online stores to be easier to use by featuring more tools for customers to use.

Tate said the most popular feature on Circuit City’s Web site is the customer reviews tool, where customers can rate products the store sells and provide feedback.

“It’s a tool we think is helpful for customers,” she said.

But even with the new features, some are still hesitant to make all of their purchases online.

Postsecondary education option student Ava Rostampour said shipping costs are one reason she avoids shopping online. She will go online to look for items she wants and then go to the mall to buy them.

“Using the Internet just makes the whole process a lot quicker,” she said.

Studies in cinema and media culture sophomore Aaron Saari said he does not think he will shop online for gifts this season.

Not being able to see a product in person is one reason he avoids online shopping.

“It’s hard to know how a shirt will fit until the shirt actually gets to you,” he said

But Saari said he has been thinking about trying Web shopping.

A recent trip to the mall to buy some shirts ended up in disappointment for Saari, he said.

“I didn’t like any of the shirts I found. I’m sick of all the brand name shirts at the mall,” he said. “They all have a company name on the front of them.”