Face it, we all have too much “stuff.”
I understand how consumer spending in the United States increased to 13,253.38 billion dollars in the second quarter of 2019 from 13,103.32 billion in the first quarter of 2018.
That’s a bit more than the coffee you bought on the way to work this morning, and everyone in Washington believes we should be buying two cups of coffee.
That’s also so much money I don’t know the proper way to write it — “dollars” or “$” with many, many zeroes.
And it’s just getting worse. A huge 64 percent of U.S. households have an Amazon Prime membership, according to Forbes. Four of every 10 dollars spent online is with Amazon.
While this column started out as one about cleaning out my parents’ house, with the Christmas shopping season here, my research came upon some Amazon-related sites, named “15 things you should never buy from Amazon” and an equal number that you can’t return to Amazon.
So in the spirit of Christmas shopping, we present:
“15 things we should not buy from Amazon,” courtesy of Kiplinger magazine.
Shopping for clothing can be quite confusing on Amazon, as often the price of an item varies based on color and size. Shipping can be free for some colors and sizes and not others.
Batteries are an important part of many gadgets, and it’s been recommended that you don’t buy batteries on Amazon. While you’ll likely save money by purchasing your typical AA batteries from
Amazon compared to your local hardware store, there are cheaper and better ones available at stores such as Costco.
3. Paper products
One of Amazon’s popular programs is its Subscribe & Save option, which allows you to automatically send yourself paper goods, baby items, and other household goods on a pre-scheduled basis. It’s kind of like getting a monthly subscription box. However, even with this program, some items aren’t the deal they seem to be.
4. Some grocery items.
Amazon’s convenience factor is hard to beat, especially if you’re looking to buy snacks like granola bars in bulk. However, it doesn’t always pay to order in large quantities, despite what conventional wisdom tells you.
Stocking up on staples from Amazon isn’t always ideal when it comes to beverages. If you brew your coffee from Keurig K-Cups and happen to enjoy the Dunkin’ Donuts brand, Kiplinger says to take note: Recently, a 16-pack of the Original House Blend variety ran $14.99 on Amazon, with free shipping for Prime members. However, Target sells the same item for $11.99.
6. School supplies
Amazon tends to mark up school supplies. When it comes time for the school season, it’s still your best bet to head to Walmart. Amazon might sound easier, but the markup on products like notebooks can be more than 300%.
Electronics are an item you should definitely shop around for before deciding to buy on Amazon — especially from Black Friday through the end of the year, when retailers are competing desperately for your dollars on big-ticket items like gaming consoles, laptops, smart watches, TVs.
8. Power tools
When it comes to hardware and tools, Amazon has a hard time competing because the big box home improvement stores have better leverage with suppliers and are able to keep their costs lower. In turn, they pass along the savings to you.
9. Household products
While it’s definitely worth a check to see if particular household products are cheaper on Amazon than elsewhere, there’s a good chance you find the prices are lower at places like Walmart, Target, or the dollar store.
10. Small kitchen appliances
If you’re looking to pick up some small kitchen appliances, you may be hard-pressed to find competitive prices on Amazon. This includes microwaves, blenders and mixers.
11. Beauty products and cosmetics
You might not find higher-than-usual prices on cosmetics from Amazon; however, third-party sellers offering counterfeit beauty products is a documented problem on Amazon, as well as on other retailers like Alibaba and eBay. Be sure to read what Amazon has to say about the problem before making purchases. The scary part about it all is fake cosmetics and skincare products may contain toxic levels of chemicals as well as arsenic, mercury, and even urine.
12. Fine jewelry
If you browse the site, you’ll find Amazon offers a wide selection of jewelry. If fine gemstones are what you’re after, however, you would probably be better off getting them from a reputable website that specializes only in jewelry. A better option yet for some jewelry seekers may be to visit a brick-and-mortar jewelry store.
13. Meal kits
AmazonFresh recently jumped on the meal kit bandwagon when it started offering Martha Stewart meal kits. While the meal kit industry is poised for growth, according to Forbes, the concept is definitely high on convenience and low on value.
14. Photography supplies
Like with power tools, Amazon just has a hard time being competitive in this area. Specialty photography retailers are making a big effort to offer hard-to-beat prices, especially when up against high-quality smartphone cameras of today.
15. Mercedes-Benz wheel caps
According to a lawsuit filed in October 2017, German automaker Daimler alleged that “Amazon refuses to take reasonable steps to police intellectual property infringement” by continuing to sell fake versions of Mercedes-Benz wheel caps on its website. The filing stated that the counterfeits were being sold by third-party sellers as well as products “shipped from and sold by Amazon.com.”
And if all that advice has your head spinning, there is one way of shopping that is better than Amazon and all the other websites: Go shopping in person, and shop local.