Alan, thanks for the thoughtful reply. And I agree with you pretty much all the way through. But I still like to wander in a shop (or a show). Sometimes, the impulse buys are what get me, and that does not happen on t'net :-)
As an eg - I bought some US marines and Japanese at a show, as they looked interesting. Not my period at all, but, well, they just called to me :-)
Same with Zulu - if I see them, I may buy them, but probably will not order them. (although saw a bit of "Zulu" at the weekend so it is tempting ....)
So for me, I try and buy at shops WHEN they stock stuff. And MZ is a terrible example, as it has centralied purchasing. therefore, talking to the staff does nothing as far as I can see. But whenever I am in there I always see kids with their parents looking at the tanks and soldiers (and buying as far as I can tell), so for younger kids "toy" shops still have a place.
And with the way poistage charges are going, I am not convinced that the internet is cheaper - the most I can say is that it is easier to buy in bulk. But that is nowhere near as much fun as looking in a shop :-)