In-person shopping returns this holiday season (includes multimedia content)

Shoppers walking around The Falls Mall in Kendall. (Ingrid Hernandez)

Last year Americans were scouring websites for all sorts of purchases as the Coronavirus pandemic limited nearly all in-person shopping.

But as this year nears a close, a lot of Floridians are slowly becoming more comfortable with hitting the mall in person.

Katishi Maake, a retail writer for the website Morning Brew, published this fall, a Harris Poll survey of over 2,000 American adults showing how many of them were shopping in-person versus online. 

The survey reported that 71% of Americans had been shopping in person at least once a week. 

Many respondents also expressed interest in in-person shopping for next year.

“63% of respondents will do most of the shopping in person a year from now, compared with 37% who said online,” the survey stated.

In Florida, shoppers are also showing interest in doing their Christmas shopping this year in person.

The Christmas Palace, located in Hialeah Gardens and Fort Lauderdale, is a year-round store dedicated to selling ornaments, trees, lights, and more types of decorations for shoppers in South Florida.

The Christmas Palace in Hialeah Gardens bustling with customers. (Ingrid Hernandez/SFMN)

Melisa Gonzalez, the operations manager of e-commerce for its online store, stated that after the city reopened late last year, businesses started up again like before.

“We didn’t really see a delay or slow down,” said Gonzalez. “We kept afloat and as soon as the mandates were lifted and as soon as everything was able to go back to normal, we decided to reopen our doors full and continue the same way we were going before.”

The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce published quarterly retail e-commerce sales on Nov. 18, showing a slight decrease in third-quarter e-commerce sales estimates for 2021 following the previous quarters.

These numbers could mean a general decrease in online sales across the country in the near future.

Regardless, Gonzalez also says that national orders from their online store have skyrocketed since it was started three years ago.

“We’re getting about two orders a minute at any given day and any given time,” she added.

The Christmas Palace’s online shop. (Ingrid Hernandez)

Department of Commerce data also show an increase in e-commerce sales when comparing 2020’s third quarter to that of this year.

In tune with this data, a lot of younger shoppers in South Florida are still mostly shopping online, as they did before.

Juan Muelle, a 21-year-old small business owner, is part of the category of shoppers primarily relying on shopping websites.

“Rarely do I go to stores anymore unless I really have to,” said Muelle. “Sites like Amazon just make things a lot more convenient.”

Anya Luz, a 22-year-old student at Florida International University, echoes this sentiment.

“I’ve always enjoyed online shopping really just for convenience when it’s things that I already know that I need and want,” said Luz. “It gives me more insight on the reviews and the quality of the product.”

But there have been benefits to in-person shopping.

“If I had to try something on,” said Muelle. “Or if it was an emergency and I needed to get something quickly.”

“I honestly enjoy in-person shopping for the experience of it, being able to walk through and experience the variety of items and try them on before I make a final sale,” added Luz.

But there may be trouble ahead, The first cases of the new Omicron variant of the Coronavirus have been detected in the U.S. Future cases could affect the current rise in in-person shopping during upcoming months.

Ingrid Hernandez is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Communications, Journalism. She also works as an Undergraduate Tutor at the Center for Excellence in Writing at FIU and wants to work as a music writer/editor in the future. Outside of her studies and work, Hernandez writes for the music news website Genius.