While there are many reasons to shop in person, there are some items that should never be purchased at brick-and-mortar retail stores:
This is something consumers should never buy, regardless of the location. Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) may attempt to paint a nice picture, arguing that your HDTV's picture might not be so nice in two years. Truthfully, however, high-def TVs rarely die young. They are sturdy items that will remain on the same dusty shelving unit for at least five years. And, when it comes to replace them, consumers may find that they could buy the same TV in five years brand new at the same price as the extended warranty.
Sony (NYSE: SNE ) has produced some of the thickest and most reliable HDMI cables available. The company sells them for less than $30 at Walmart (NYSE: WMT ). That is a fair price. The $90 that Monster charges for its cables, however, is not.
Budget conscious consumers can find a variety of HDMI cables on Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) for less than $5.
This is a no-brainer. With higher prices and fewer selections, consumers are better off buying new music from Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) iTunes service. If you prefer CDs, check Amazon or BestBuy.com.
Cell Phone Accessories
Why spend $20 or more for an iPhone case you could find online for $10?
DVDs After Launch
When movies and TV boxed sets are first released, Target (NYSE: TGT ) and Best Buy often fight for the best price available. After those sales end, however, consumers are typically better off shopping online. Otherwise they will have to wait for another sale to come around at the nearest big-box store.
Video Game Download Cards
You walk into a store. You see a copy of Game X sitting on the shelf and a download card sitting next to it. Which do you choose?
Seriously, which one? If you have to ask, you might as well have stayed at home and downloaded the game. After all, it is not as if that card holds any value -- you will still have to go through the trouble of downloading the item.
The exception to this rule would be Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network points. But Xbox Live subscriptions are usually cheaper on Amazon.
Items That Are Cheaper but Damaged
Brick-and-mortar bookstores want to beat Amazon so badly that they are willing to fill their stores with zillions of books that nobody wants -- including some with scratches running up and down the cover!
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