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Does Online Shopping do More Harm than Good?

15 April 2013

What could be bad about it? You wake up with a hankering to read the first edition of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, or wanting to get that transmission part you need for when you work on your car this upcoming weekend. So  you get onto Google, find the best product for the cheapest price (within seconds,) and use PayPal or your credit card to make a quick purchase and make your life just a little bit better. And, you’ve done it all with a cup of hot coffee in hand, and while still in your PJs.

Again, what could be bad?

Unfortunately, more harm is being done while you’re online shopping than you probably know. And while it is convenient, handy, and today, even very cheap (no, we’re not denying the benefits,) you have to ask what expense that convenience comes at. And if it’s really worth it.

Many of the big box stores in Canada have been closing, or at least downsizing to cut costs, and along the way, several thousand employees as well.  HP, Best Buy, SportMart, Zellers, and Staples are just some of the biggest names that have recently announced that they’re doing some sort of downsizing, or closing their doors altogether.

And many of them, Staples being the latest, have claimed that the amount of online shopping consumers are doing today is one reason. With fewer people coming into their stores, there’s simply not the need to have the staffing levels on-hand in those stores that there once was.

But not putting your money into the local economy is just one problem that comes with shopping online. Another is that the money might not go into the Canadian economy at all. Because American shopping sites are more well-known, they’re often the first that consumers travel to when looking for something online. And when they do, that money goes directly into the States, instead of being spent here at home.

It’s for this reason that Canadian online consumers are urged to track down different Canadian shopping sites, and try to ensure that they’re keeping their Canadian dollars inside Canada. Many of those same box stores have been making additional efforts to market those Canadian sites, and make them more accessible for the consumer.

Of course, none of this is to say that you should never shop online. But we do hope that it’s given you cause to stop and think the next time you do, and make sure that doing so won’t put too great a dent in the Canadian economy. They may only be a few dollars, but some here in Ontario and then some there in B.C., and then some there in P.E.I. – it all adds up. And if we’re not careful, shopping online really could end up doing more harm than good.

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