Amazon wants best of both worlds (and your money) with Berkeley brick and mortar store

With just days to go until Christmas, people are on a mission to find those last minute gifts. Shoppers are at a new retail addition on Fourth Street in Berkeley-- an Amazon 4-Star store that opened in November-- one of three such stores in the country.

The first opened just outside of Denver in September followed by one in new York City.

Amazon is a name synonymous with online shopping. Experts say it makes sense for the online giant to have a brick and mortar presence. The 4-Star Store concept offers items highly rated by its customers.

"One thing our customers have told us a lot is that they love the choice," says Jeanine Takala, spokeswoman for Amazon 4-Star. 

One shopper tells us it is about having options. 

"I really like shopping locally. Seeing things and touching them and I like the convenience and ease and the free shipping of online shopping. So it's a toss up," says Sarah Flowers of Oakland. 

The National Retail Federation finds that it is a tossup between online versus in- store purchases. nIt says that an equal number of consumers shop each way. 

"Consumers live in both worlds all the time and that's how they want to shop," says consumer psychologisst Kit Yarrow who's also a Golden Gate University professor emeritus. 

She says online retailers have seen the benefits of having a brick and mortar store.

"Online sales increased as well as the brick and mortar sales. There's something about the billboard effect. It reminds the consumers that there's a place they like to go and buy things," says Yarrow. 

She says the holiday season is also when shoppers want the in-store experience.

"I'm with my sisters. And when I do online shopping, I'm by myself so I think it's good to spend time with the family," says Candy Soonthornvech of El Cerrito. 

Experts predict consumers will spend 4.1 percent more this holiday season compared to last year. 
Some avid online shoppers say going into a store is preferable for last minute gifts. 

"Personally, I'd like to see things before I buy them," says Rami Nassar of Berkeley. 

Yarrow says people doing a lot of shopping means there will be a lot of returns after Christmas. Still, she anticipates that this will be a great holiday season for retailers.