For 11 months of every year, I am without doubt,a dedicated lover of shopping. During my lunch breaks,you'll often find me wandering through a nearby department store,sandwich in hand. On the weekends,I'll likely be perusing the stalls of my local markets and fairs.
Come December however,it's an entirely different story. The time of year generally associated with merriment and cheer can be incredibly stressful.
From buying christmas presents to ransacking grocery stores in preparation for family gatherings,December is a month that traditionally involves spending a lot of time and money in overcrowded shopping centers and supermarkets.
What's worse than this pre-christmas rush are the sales that occur in its wake. Every year in Britain, Canada and Australia,Boxing Day sales bring thousands of shoppers to malls and department stores.
Mesmerized by the promise of dramatic price reductions,some people start queuing up outside stores the night before sales even begin.
This year, during the US' post-Thanksgiving"Black Friday" sales, 20 were injured after a woman, desperate for a discounted Xbox video game, squirted pepper spray inside a Walmart.
It's madness like this that has now driven me to the world of online shopping. Not only can I avoid having my personal space invaded by hordes of crazed shoppers, but nowadays, most brands and online stores offer their own sales and special deals.
Say goodbye to human stampedes and bad department store muzak.
For clothes and accessories, ASOS.com (UK) and Shopbop.com (US) are personal favorites. Both of these offer a range of GREat designers, discounted prices and free worldwide shipping.
In terms of brand-name makeup and beauty products, strawberrynet.com (US) is my go-to site, with its comprehensive collection and heavily reduced prices.
When shopping online, it’s important to stick to secure websites so be sure to read the privacy and security policies before making any purchases.
When paying, I prefer using third party services, like those provided by PayPal, to ensure my financial details remain confidential.
Also, if you're looking to buy your christmas presents online, it's best to keep in mind the shipping time needed. The last thing you want is for your brother’s jacket to arrive a week into January.