There’s nothing quite like a long Christmas shopping list to take the joy out of the season, especially if you’re not a shopaholic. Finding something within your price range is difficult enough without having to swim your way through a flooded Colombo to a bunch of stores. Is there an alternative? For some, it’s online shopping. While the idea of being able to sit at home and simply click to purchase the pretty things you see is tempting, what’s really on offer? Here’s what our search turned up.
Books: Between Sarasavi (http://www.sarasavi.lk/), Perera Hussein Publishing House (http://www.ph-books.com/) and Vijitha Yapa Bookstores (http://www.vijithayapa.com/) you’re pretty well covered. Dan Brown’s new book ‘The Lost Symbol’ is available at the latter, and priced at 690/- makes for a reasonably priced gift. With over 300 new arrivals in their section – you can find books that are even more competitively priced. The Garland of Fate by Ruana Rajepakse (longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Award) is 450/-. The Sarasavi site is a lot less abundant, but a list of their own publications is particularly strong on translated works, which include Anna Karenina (990/-) and for the politically inclined, ‘Daughter of the East’ by Benazir Bhutto (175/-). With prices marked in euros, Perera Hussein’s publications range in price from €15 to €5. The publishers promise fast and free delivery.
Food: Food hampers remain one of the time tested gifts for this season – and Keells allows you to shop for them online (www.keellssuper.com). If the 350 delivery charge doesn’t put you off, this might seem like an intriguing alternative to your weekly shopping expeditions as well.
Jewellry: It was once rumoured that Aishwarya Rai liked to shop at Stone ‘n’ String (http://www.stone-n-string.com), but considering how unlikely such a sighting would be now, you might as well make your visit an online one. The company will custom make jewellery if you have something special in mind, and are also willing to make transactions over the phone. Consider yourself forewarned though, the collections online are rather limited.
Online Superstores: Dialog’s ibuy (www.ibuy.lk) has a surprisingly large selection – everything from apparel, household goods, electronics, cosmetics and sporting goods. Handloom saris from Zden (priced between 1650 -2100) compete for attention with cricket bats (475/-) and granite Buddha statues (850/-). Kapruka (www.lanka.info) is a less polished version of ibuy, but offers more in the way of flowers and sweets. From mugs (400/- plus) to Swarovski pendants (2831/-) to school supplies, this is a bit of an eclectic collection. There are also hampers and a wine store.
Kapruka also offers a customisation service and will print t-shirts or make jewellery according to your specifications. Odel (www.odel.lk/) brings Otara’s finest into your home. Expect the usual range of clothing, plus access to items that are on sale (many of which are irredeemably ugly, it must be said). The brands that are housed under Odel’s roof (such as Dilmah and Guliyan) are also available. The section devoted to Odel’s backstage merchandise is impressively organised and allows you to search for accessories by colour.