Which is Safer? Online or In-person Shopping?


Unlike the woman in this photo, delivery workers are required to wear masks, as COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets. On a typical day, online sales peak around 11:25 AM EST.

Cesar Lopez, Journalist

Due to the coronavirus, people are worrying more about their own safety. Through the duration of the pandemic (and even before), shopping has played a very important role for society. People need to know which version of shopping is safer for them, online shopping or in-person shopping. So far, the safest version seems to be online shopping. However, both can be dangerous if safety precautions are not followed.

Most people are familiar with the internet. Due to this, online shopping has become very prominent in the past few years. Does this mean online shopping is generally safe? Well, there are many factors to consider. 

Obviously, online shopping allows you to interact with a very small group of people, which lowers the risk of getting COVID-19. According to the CDC, if someone does end up having COVID-19, it is highly recommended to shop online for products, to slow the risk of spreading COVID-19. If possible, people should also limit the number of times they go in-person shopping. Just for safety precautions when receiving a package, the CDC recommends people should use hand sanitizer, or gloves, and to carefully open up the package.

Shopping in-person brings an even higher chance of getting COVID-19, but it is more time efficient (as people can get the item they are searching for right away). According to the CDC, people should wear masks and gloves to protect themselves. Additional protection is recommended, such as disinfectant wipes. Most stores don’t offer bags to carry your products home for free, so people should bring their own (hopefully washable and reusable) bags to stores. A very important step is to not touch your face. Your face is the easiest accessible point for COVID-19 to enter your body. Once the shopping is done, people should wash their hands with warm and soapy water.

So which is more safe? Both sides of shopping have pros and cons, so there isn’t a direct answer. It is simply the option with the most beneficial outcome (which is online shopping). As claimed by Freshman Rocky Rodriguez, “Online shopping is better because there’s less human contact, besides, it’s cheaper anyway.” As Rocky states, the prices are very important. Oftentimes there are many discounts for online shopping, such as Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and even regular weekly deals offered by certain companies.

There are also some aspects of in-person shopping that may be more effective than online shopping. In the opinion of Senior Ethan Bunn, “You can see and feel the product in person before making the decision to buy it.” This is very important to shoppers, because they don’t want a faulty product. 

Accuracy for products is important as well, as stated by Junior Moala Fotu, “The benefits of in-person shopping are having more options in front of you, being able to look for what you want, knowing or having an idea of the right size for you.” If a product isn’t the right size, it can be a wasted purchase.

Though there are pros and cons to shopping either way, online shopping generally keeps people safe. As long as people follow the recommended safety precautions and wear masks, risks of getting COVID-19 should be avoided fairly easily. Stay safe everybody!