Locals weigh in on online shopping

The day after Thanksgiving people will fight food comas in winter weather to be some of the first to enter stores for Black Friday sales. They’ll wade through crowds for discounted items and then stand in long lines, clutching their precious purchases.

At the same time, many people will be sleeping off their food comas, knowing that they can get deals online today, Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday has continued to increase in scope and revenue since its inception in 2005. The shopping day soared past the $2 billion mark in 2014, which was a 17 percent increase from 2013, according to the analytics firm comScore. Some stores like Walmart launched its online sales even earlier than today. The giant online realtor Amazon started sales on Black Friday and will provide new ones at undisclosed intervals all the way through Dec. 5, which ensures people have to continually check in on the company’s website for updates.

The National Retail Federation released their November consumer survey and found that 135.8 millions people plan to shop on Thanksgiving weekend and 183.8 million plan to shop on Cyber Monday.

With so much online shopping being done, the Juneau Empire wanted to ask the community about their online and in-store shopping habits.

In a poll, the Juneau Empire asked readers how much of their holiday shopping was done online with three saying all, eight saying most, nine saying some and two saying none.

Additionally, several residents in Juneau shared their Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping plans.

Linda Hollinbeck, 72, said she doesn’t engage in much online shopping, and never on big sale days like Cyber Monday. She said she might try it in the future.

“If I want something and Juneau has it, I will buy it in Juneau,” she said. “If I need it and Juneau doesn’t have it, I will shop online.”

Hollinbeck said that she doesn’t participate in Black Friday in-store sales due to the large crowds. Other responders echoed this, describing Black Friday shopping as “combat shopping.”

One responder, Rita Winslow, 39, said she is proud that she has never shopped on Cyber Monday or Black Friday.

“I’m never been one to follow trends, always following the beat of my own drums, so to speak. I just never understood the point of getting up so early to stand in lines, the combat shopping, spending more money than I wanted or budgeted for,” Winslow said. “If I find bargains throughout the year, I buy then or I make all my gifts. I try to keep my material possessions to a minimum and if possible to recycle or upcycle. I have donated to daycares, shelters, consignment shops, friends and have regifted.”

Winslow shops online about once very two months, with no variation for the holiday season. She said she buys online only when she cannot find what she needs locally, but pointed out the shipping struggles Alaskans experience when ordering from the Lower 48 as a deterrent. “We are part of the U.S. but treated like an unwanted family member!”

Noelani Kamahele, 23, said she shops moderately online.

“I try to avoid the Internet during Cyber Monday, too many temptations,” Kamahele said. “However, I am looking to participate in Cyber Monday this year, but just for some outdoor equipment that I need. That stuff is so expensive and I only buy high-end gear, so any chance to get it at a discount is an opportunity I have to take.”

Kamahele gave an “absolutely not” answer to the question on whether she shops in-store on Black Friday.

“Crowds of people make me anxious,” she said. “I would much rather sit at home and watch Netflix with a cup of coffee while everyone else braves the stores. I am a huge consumer and buy things that I don’t need like everyone else, but I don’t see the point in combat shopping. The things I see on the news about Black Friday breaks my heart — seeing people act so crazy just to save a few bucks. I think the holidays should just be about spending time with your family and eating good food.”

Kamahele said she’s a “big supporter” of buying local, however, “living in such a small town you cannot get everything you need from the stores here. If the only stores that have what I need are a big box store like Fred Meyer or Walmart and I can get the item online for cheaper, I will. But I only buy yarn from Seaside Yarns, and I get as much of my outdoor gear from Foggy Mountain, Nugget Alaska Outfitter or Sequence Boardshop. These shops need the patronage of the community to stay alive and well. It’s our responsibility as a community to look after our own, support local, unless we only want to have the option to shop at big corporate stores.”

Kamahele referenced the Look Local First campaign, which the Juneau Chamber of Commerce and the Juneau Radio Center launched in 2011, to encourage the community of Juneau to shop local first before going online to purchase items.

Online shopping is considered convenient by some because they do not face the same hassles that they would when shopping in-store.

“Online shopping hurts my bank accounts,” Kamahele said. “It’s so convenient it might just be too convenient.”

• Contact Clara Miller at 523-2243 or at clara.miller@juneauempire.com.

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