The Only Way to Shop

(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit 12-15-15)

If you haven’t been paying attention, you might have missed this.  The observed differences are so subtle, no one would be surprised if it escaped your attention.  The events leading to this change occurred over a number of years.  Some would argue that no real difference has actually happened.  However, search your feelings – you know that things are different.  I can illustrate it with one simple example.

Did anyone drive out to Augusta Mall this past weekend?  During this time of year, this question usually produces feelings of pain and suffering.  The traffic leading into the Mall during the holidays is notoriously bad.  Traffic is often backed up well onto Bobby Jones Expressway.  For those that brave the journey, the pain level can be measured using one simple metric – How many turns of the light was required for you to enter the parking lot?

I was one of those souls that went to the Mall this weekend.  Sunday at 1:30pm.  The next to last weekend before Christmas.  When we left the house, my wife and I looked at each other and thought, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”  But do you know how many changes of the light it took for us to get into the parking lot?  

One.

Don’t get me wrong.  Augusta Mall was plenty full, and the typical holiday chaos was available in abundance.  After all, we are only two weeks from Christmas!  Our hard-to-shop-for relatives still exist.  Obsessing over the perfect deal does not simply go away.  No, it’s still the holiday shopping season – with every part of holiday shopping there to torment a weak-minded person such as myself!

It’s just this year…well, in a noticeable way, it wasn’t quite that bad.

Of course, we’re just witnessing the latest in the evolution of the Internet and how it’s transforming our lives.  Online shopping is nothing new.  This paradigm shift has been evolving for several years now.  But this year, for whatever reason (and I really can’t put my finger on it), online shopping has moved solidly mainstream. Ask your friends and family – I suspect that you’ll find that most Christmas shopping is done online.

And why wouldn’t it be?  The advantages are almost too numerous to mention.  Consider the following:

Old way:  Wonder the isles looking for a product or a sales person to help you.

Online way:  Type the product name in the search bar.

Old way:  Drive to multiple stores looking for the best deal.

Online way:  Browse to multiple sites looking for the best deal.

Old way:  Spend hours in traffic or in crowded stores, smelling some of your favorite people.

Online way:  While still in your pajamas, sit down with your iPad and a cup of coffee, with wisps of cinnamon and potpourri in the air.

Old way:  Start searching months in advance looking for that perfect, hard-to-find item.

Online way:  Really?  Everything is on the Internet.  Find the perfect gift in less than an hour.

Online shopping possesses a few weaknesses.  For example, if you like to receive that personal touch, click-to-order will probably not be your thing.  More significantly, some really mean people have started stealing online deliveries from front porches, etc.  In the larger cities, package-receiving services are being started to provide secure package receipts.  I am not aware of any service in Augusta.  In the interim, one of your first online purchases should be an IP video camera.  You can’t make mean people act nice, but maybe you show the judge why they should be on the naughty list.  

BTW – Please be nice to your UPS/Fedex/USPS drivers.  If anyone is hating the holidays, it will be these folk.  We’ve talked with a few drivers as they’ve made deliveries.  Can you say “package tsunami?”  They are working hard to ensure everyone has a Merry Christmas.  Be sure to give them some Christmas cheer!

As you head out to do your final Christmas shopping, remember that orders placed with Amazon’s 2-day delivery must be made by Tuesday, December 22nd.  However, there is no delivery deadline for the gift of Christmas.  God bless you, and have a Very Merry Christmas!

@gregory_a_baker

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