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How to buy clothes online

Baby boomers are among the millions of Americans buying clothing online more and more frequently.

In 2007, Americans spent nearly $23 billion on clothing, accessories, and shoes – that’s more than was spent on any other online category of consumer goods, including computers and electronics.

People over age 40 are generally more satisfied with their online purchases than younger people, according to a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Of the 25,565 people who responded to the online survey, 85 percent were very or completely satisfied with their online clothes-shopping experience.

June Hansen IMG_3700 Consumer Reported rated 39 online clothing sellers based on the survey in its December 2008 issue. Among the findings are:

  • L.L.Bean, Zappos, and Lands' End tended to provide quality clothing, accurate descriptions and sizing information, and an easy way to order and return items. Old Navy, Sears, Victoria’s Secret, the Gap, JCPenney, and Kohl’s weren’t rated as highly.
  • Zappos, QVC, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and L.L.Bean did a good job of revealing shipping costs. Victoria's Secret, J. Jill, and QVC were among the worst offenders for complaints about shipping costs.
  • Sears, Woman Within, Chadwick's, Haband, and Newport News customers had more problems with size accuracy than other companies in the ratings.

Online shopping could save you time by avoiding holiday crowds. Be sure, however, to include the costs of shipping when you do your comparison shopping.

And, Consumer Reports said in the article that those surveyed returned or exchanged one in four of the items they purchased. If you’re a busy boomer consumer, returning that many items may not work for you.

To read the ratings, you can look for the December issue of Consumer Reports at a local library or bookstore. Ratings are available online for subscribers to ConsumerReports.org.

Copyright 2008, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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