Survey: Shopping Online Can Save Big Bucks

A new study shows that brick-and-mortar stores tend to charge 44.2% more for products.

W. David Gardner, Contributor

October 26, 2006

2 Min Read

Where can shoppers find the best deals in consumer electronics products -- online or offline? The answer: online by a wide margin, because offline prices are 44.2 percent higher, according to a price comparison survey released Thursday. The vendor survey, not coincidentally, was sponsored by the maker of an online-comparison shopping Toolbar.

Vendio, which markets Dealio scoured the inventories of 100,000 online merchants and then contacted five major retailing chains and found the huge price discrepancy.

"If you go to offline retailers you run the risk of paying more," said Garth Chouteau, Vendio spokesman. "You'll usually find the lowest price online and you'll find it quickly."

In the survey, Vendio compared several popular products in the price-volatile consumer electronics category. For instance, the survey found an average offline price of $248.25 for a Kodak Easyshare C643 digital camera compared with $140.95 for the lowest online price for the same camera. A Samsung LN-S3241D 32-inch LC-TV averaged $1,457.40 offline compared with $969 for the lowest online price.

Chouteau conceded that the survey compared "apples and oranges" somewhat because it compared the "average" offline prices with the "lowest" online prices. And he noted that bricks-and-mortar stores often can feature very low prices in promotions and in Sunday circulars, for instance.

But for the typical shopper who can't plow through the numerous circulars and promotions offered by retail stores, online shopping offers a quick and usually successful search to find lowest prices. "It usually takes just 5 seconds," he said, referring to Vendio's online comparison-shopping Toolbar.

"This holiday shopping season, brick-and-mortar stores will garner more last-minute sales because of gift giving deadlines," said Rodrigo Sales, CEO and co-founder of Vendio, in a prepared statement. "Our survey shows, however, that consumers can save money by planning their shopping earlier and making purchases online."

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