What you should (and shouldn’t) buy online

Over the years, online shopping has radically changed the way we shop, but before you carelessly tap in your credit card digits to place an online order, check out what Consumer Reports says are the best and worst merchandise items to buy online:

5 things you should buy online

Electronics: The selection is wider, and according to Anthem , more than two-thirds of electronics are less expensive when purchased online. The price difference applies to everything from computers to accessories like HDMI cables (priced 30 – 40 percent less than in stores).  Even if you prefer to buy electronics in the store, CR says you should do your research online, note the lowest price you find and see if you can have it matched in-store.

Small Appliances: Blenders, toasters and more area all best purchased online — but for items like vacuums, try them out in the store first.

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Pet Supplies: Save 15 percent by signing up for regular pet food deliveries with Petco.com. Your pet won’t run out of food and you get a discount. Do the same for pet meds (unless it’s an emergency) as the markups at the vet can run 100 percent or more.

Theme Park Tickets: Not only do you avoid lines at the park, but you can find some of the best ticket prices online. Look for discounts offered to club members such as AAA or credit card rewards.

Baby Supplies: Babies always need diapers. Join a delivery program and you will save about 15 percent.

Here are some items you probably should avoid buying online:

Paint: Colors may look different online and you want to be able to get a real sense of how the color will look in your rooms.

Office and school supplies: Office supply stores are shrinking but they often have better deals in-store than shopping online. One report found that shoppers spent 41 percent less on a list of typical school supplies by shopping in-store than buying online.

Drugs from overseas: This should be an easy one, but if you need data  — up to 97 percent of online pharmacy storefronts don’t require prescriptions or they sell drugs that are not approved by the FDA. Shopping for your prescription online could mean you get old drugs, altered drugs or just plain fake drugs. Only place online drug orders through reputable pharmacies.

For more information, pick up the July edition of Consumer Reports magazine.


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