Retail numbers are terrible this year, largely due to the failing economy. Despite this, Amazon apparently just completed its best holiday season ever. I'm not surprised. I've claimed for years that big-box retail, especially electronics, is marching toward extinction.
Consider the advantages of online shopping:
1. Prices are almost always lower. The day after Christmas, I helped my brother-in-law purchase a Canon camera. It was $180 online, shipped - no tax. It was $280 at Wal Mart - before tax. He saved $100 in less time than it would have taken to find a parking space.
2. Comparison shopping is far, far easier. I'm not just talking about where to buy, which is trivial online, due to price comparison sites like PriceGrabber and deal sites like Fatwallet. It also applies to what to buy. You can read literally hundreds of reviews on any gadget. Many of these are created by actual owners of the product you're considering. Online reviews for televisions are far more useful than seeing the item on display in Best Buy. Big-box retailers rarely configure their televisions under conditions you'll find in your living room or den. Professional reviewers usually do. Even the amateur reviewers on Amazon usually provide a better preview of what it will look like than seeing it under fake conditions in the store.
3. Selection is nearly unlimited. Rather than choosing between the two electronics stores near your mall, you can compare many thousands of retailers. Is the closest Macy's clearance sale 200 miles away? Who cares? Also, more competition equals lower prices.
4. It's far more convenient. Rather than getting dressed, driving around town to visit a bunch of stores, waiting in lines, fighting traffic, fighting weather, dying, etc., you just punch your credit card into the computer, and the stuff comes to your door.
I have a challenge for you: Next Christmas, do ALL of your shopping online. You'll spend less and maybe even get better gifts for your friends and family. It takes nearly all of the hassle out of Christmas shopping, as well.