‘Tis the season: a relative return to in-person holiday shopping

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Ellie Yang

Christmas market in NYC before the pandemic.

Ellie Yang, Chief Design Editor

The melody of Jingle Bell Rock. The extravagant and glittering ornaments. The smell of apple cider and hot chocolate. The towering Christmas trees. Details like these radiate warmth and holiday spirit as you look through the racks for the perfect gift. 

Holiday shopping is a big part of many people’s holiday season, however, like most everything else, it was moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics show that, globally, 49 percent of consumers shopped online more after the pandemic, 62 percent in the U.S., the number of online orders placed between April 1-20 increased by 208 percent after the pandemic,  and 91 percent of shoppers missed in-person shopping in 2020. 

This holiday season, with more relaxed Covid measures compared to last year, many are looking forward to shopping for gifts in person. 

Junior Cosima Hansen said, “I just love the experience of holiday shopping in person and seeing all these decorations in the cities and stores.” She continued, “I think it shows some kind of appreciation. When you shop in person, you show your parents, your siblings, or your friends that you actually took time out of your day to get a present for them.”

I just love the experience of holiday shopping in person and seeing all these decorations in the cities and stores.”

— Cosima Hansen

For Junior Luca Lorance, in-person holiday shopping is a time to bond with family and have fun. He said, “You know how people say it’s about the journey, not the destination. I think this applies to it [holiday shopping] because it is a fun time. Usually, when I go holiday shopping I go with my mom. It’s a nice way for us to do things we normally don’t have time to do together.”

Besides its holiday spirit, in-person holiday shopping can also be more productive for some as it allows you to see in your hands the items and even try them on. Sophomore Violet Paull said, “when you’re seeing things in person, it’s so much more real. It’s less of how great these pants look on this model, and more like: how would they look on me?” 

Though in-person holiday shopping is preferred for some, there are others who would rather shop from the comfort of their homes. Librarian Jillian McCoy said that the holiday spirit and rush that some enjoy is overwhelming for her. “I enjoy the holiday spirit at home with decorations and family traditions. But I kind of hate the rush and madness of holiday shopping. It’s just too much for me.”

Freshman Gabriela Olay also finds online shopping more enjoyable. She said, “It’s [online shopping’s] a lot more comfortable, I can do it within my own time. If I get tired of shopping, I can just stop and come back to it. It’s more practical.” 

Ellie Yang

Despite the conflicting voices, the return of some to in-person shopping this holiday season will also help to alleviate the stress of the postal system. Even with Covid measures relaxed this year, the U.S Postal System is expecting around 12 billion letters, cards and packages this year, a decrease from the 13 billion that was delivered in 2020. With its process at one point overwhelmed by the surge of online shoppers earlier this year, every part of the country’s postal system was under a strain during the pandemic, including the Masters mailroom. 

 Frank Dicicco, the mailroom manager, said, “It gets busier during the holidays. I get a lot more mail and a lot more packages. These days, everybody is buying stuff online, not too many people go to the store anymore. And over the past two years, that’s been growing and growing.” 

This year, with the return of boarders, Dicicco has not seen a decrease in the mailroom’s packages. Though some are gradually returning to in-person shopping, the online shopping wave started by the pandemic is still ongoing and changing the jobs of many.

The holiday season is a time like no other for many families. Though forced to shop online during the pandemic, this year, many of them will return to in-person holiday shopping, picking out gifts for loved ones to the familiar melody of Christmas tunes. Lorance said, “There is a whole mood to holiday shopping. Yes, websites can have images of Christmas trees and lights, but it’s really not the same.”