Recently, a specialty food store in Australia implemented a $5 “looking fee” to dissuade customers from “showrooming,” or browsing without making any purchases. According to the note posted on the door (taken by a person who posted it on Reddit), customers would get the $5 taken off their bill if they bought something.
This interesting story inspired this week’s Money Chat: We’ve all done it before right? There’s something we want to buy, so we find a store that stocks the product, check it out in person, maybe do a little price comparing, and then purchase the product online.
Claire: As a bargain shopper, I hardly ever pay full price for anything. The few times I did, my heart sank, but it was for items that I really wanted and knew it would never go on sale or be found online.
For things like clothes, if my closet is in need of a must-have staple, such as an expensive coat, I will definitely go to a department store like Bloomingdale’s to try it on, and then check eBay or Amazon afterward. If it’s something I cannot live without, I’ll check my trusty shopping apps from my iPhone while I’m in the store, just to verify they have it.
I also comparison shop when it comes to vitamins. Yes, a plethora of vitamins line the shelves of Whole Foods, but I’d rather wait and get it for way less online.
The truth is, consumers are always looking for a good deal and with the online shopping world so accessible (on smartphones and tablets), it’s hard to turn down a bargain. The obvious downside to Internet shopping is that you can’t try things on or touch them, so it makes sense for people to check out the goods first at a store before purchasing.
However, the Australian shop that started charging people $5 to browse may have outraged some folks, but the bulk of the customers shuffling in just to browse and comparison shop will probably just frequent the next store down the street.
Amy: I do this a lot for things likes shoes and clothes. The reasoning for shoes is obvious, because it feels much safer for me to try shoes on in stores and then purchase online for the cheaper prices, and it’s almost always possible to find the same pair of shoes for cheaper online. Prices for shoes seem to fluctuate online and I always make it a game to find the cheapest listing for the shoes I want. Sometimes the price difference is pretty significant, in the $50-$100 range.
I used to do this more with books too — going to bookstores and jotting down the names of books I like and then purchasing for cheaper online — but I’ve stopped doing this. I definitely want to support my local bookstores or else they’re all going to close down and that’s going to be a sad, sad day. (Story continued on page 2)
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