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My Experiment: Is Shopping Online or Offline Better?

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The experiment:

Pretty much anything that saves time and money is generally given a big, universal thumbs up. And now that I'm a mum, anything that also saves my biceps from becoming even more pumped is gleeful. So when I was set the challenge by broadband, TV and phone provider TalkTalk of spending 24 hours carrying out only online transactions and then comparing it with 24 hours entirely offline to see which one really gives you value for money, I jumped at the chance.

I was surprised to hear that, whilst 43.5million adults (86%) in the UK have used the internet, 7.1million people aren't online and, as someone who is probably slightly addicted to the internet, I wondered whether I had become too dependent on online activities.

As a working mum I'm always trying to stream-line activities to give me more time with my daughter. A trip to the supermarket inevitably ends up with my daughter being bored and my inner calm being tested to full capacity. We'd both much rather be doing some arty crafty activity where she can get covered in paint and I can feel wholesome for five minutes.

To ensure that the experiment was highly 'scientific', I compared, as much as possible, like for like. And without a doubt, the 24 hours online was infinitely less stressful - having someone deliver, well, pretty much anything straight to your door is wonderful. My poor, weary arms took a much needed lugging-about-break.

The comparison:

Supermarket food shopping - food shopping online was only a little cheaper as the deals are similar to those in store, but in terms of ease, online was far and away the winner. It is just so, so much quicker and bicep friendly!

I adore not having to lug the boring, heavy or bulky items such as loo paper, kitchen towel and family-sized milk around the store, and then into my car, and then from my car into the house... whilst also trying to answer my daughter's questions about why cats don't eat croissants... all the time trying not to wince with pain due to the eight precariously balanced bags of groceries in your tired and weary hands. Phew. The online supermarket site also enables you to select 'Your last order', meaning you can order and pay for, in less than five minutes, all the items your family gobbles up regularly.

But, whilst online supermarket shopping is a total joy, I do still love taking my sweet time buying products such as fruit, meat, particularly smelly cheese and strange recipe-specific ingredients from local, independent shops and markets. But even if I don't manage to find anything, at least I'm safe in the knowledge that I've got a good supply of beans in the cupboard.

Clothes - online is cheaper and quicker but I really enjoy shopping in reality. The vintage hat I bought offline was £25 and the vintage collar cuff from the online shop was £16.90 including postage, so online definitely won the bargain-hunting prize. But whilst it is incredibly easy to find a bargain, and to compare so many different items, that also means it's dangerous if you're a rather 'enthusiastic' clothes and accessory shopper! I could quite easily blow my monthly budget without even getting out of my bed! So I've set myself some strict rules: 1) anything costing more than £50 has to be thought about for 24 hours 2) no online shopping with no agenda 3) no online shopping after wine!

Flowers
- I wanted to buy my mum a thank you present for babysitting but had left it to the last minute, panic-buying a bunch of squashed, £3 flowers. Shamed by their lack of loveliness, I walked twenty minutes to a florist and forked out £17.50 for a beautiful but fairly simple pot of lavender. It was definitely worth it but I then turned up late and dishevelled for a meeting. I then found a lovely bouquet of flowers online for £26.50 that were beautiful and delivered straight to my mum's door. All I need to do now is try and be a little more organised and buy thank you flowers a few hours before I need them, rather than a few hours after....

Conclusion...

All in all, shopping online meant a lot less stress and saved me quite a bit of money and, whilst I wouldn't use it for everything, more often than not it was a great alternative to venturing out of the house. What's more, low-cost, great value contracts on broadband and landline make getting online even easier and more affordable than ever before. So for those who have yet to try all the possibilities of online shopping, make sure you give it a go!

Here is my video diary complete with all the gory details of my frantically busy life as I tried to go cold turkey on the internet...