Online shopping dilemma

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Online shopping has changed the face of retail but is there a downside to scoring amazing bargains online?

I’m sure you’re probably thinking Ive gone mad but there are consequences to our increasing obsession with online shopping and I’d love to hear what you think too.

Firstly, I must confess I am a fan of online shopping. There is something deeply satisfying about a beautifully packaged “gift” arriving on your doorstep just days after buying it online. Not to mention being able to buy designer goods at a fraction of what you would normally expect to pay for them.

But, and it’s a big but, I was blissfully unaware of any downside to this online buying frenzy until the doors of designer footwear boutique Mei Mei shut citing online shopping as a reason for the store’s demise. Mei Mei was once one of only a handful of stores in New Zealand selling high end designer shoes. Once these brands became easily accessible online Mei Mei noticed that customers would come into store to try on shoes and then whip home and purchase them online for a fraction of the cost.

Now don’t get me wrong I love a bargain as much as anyone but I do struggle with this because it seems a little dishonest knowing you are only going in to a store to try something on that you have no intention of buying.

The latest issue of Fashion Quarterly has a great article about this issue. The magazine’s feature’s editor, Megan Bedford, has done a thorough job of canvassing the thoughts and opinions of local fashion brands like Ruby, Helen Cherry, Kate Sylvester and Moochi. They all seem to agree that they cannot compete with the big online stores like Shopbop and ASOS but they can offer a unique shopping experience that includes great service and quality products.

So here is the conundrum. We love getting a bargain BUT the two key problems with this as I see it are:

1:  The imminent demise of our local fashion industry.

2: The lack of good, local opportunities for our young, emerging, creative talent.

Do we just accept this as the new frontier in fashion retailing or do we consciously make an effort to invest in our local fashion industry?

What do you think?

I think this is a really worthwhile debate and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.