back to the original hypothesis, I would think that many of us would support local retailers within certain criteria:
- local product support
- genuine interest and expertise in their particular idiom (be it restaurant, sport, entertainment)
- supports local community
If internet retailers do this as well, then I would be happy to patronize them as well. Rick's site is a good example of that.
Several of the boat dealers are prime examples of this as well, supporting the sailing community by hosting regattas, sponsoring teams, etc. I don't know of many boat manufacturers that do this directly, so it stands to reason that the dealers absorb those overhead costs, and some of that is buried in the prices I pay from them
I try to patronize locally owned/operated restaurants in the off-tourist season (I stay home during season - it's ridiculous), and will pay a certain amount extra to local sailing/dive/shooting/alcohol/topless shops to encourage community activity and support.
In many cases I make that specific point to the owners of the establishment I choose to patronize. I also point out specific cases where internet prices are dramatically (like over 20%) different. In some cases the retailer adjusts their pricing, or explain valid reasons for the difference.
I'm certain most, if not all products can be found slightly cheaper on the internet. It stands to reason that internet retailers do not have nearly the overhead that a brick & mortar business would.
Most retailers are aware of the price discrepancy between web and brick, and don't charge dramatically higher than the average internet cost.
I doubt any savvy retailer would be naieve enough to think that 99% of their customers don't do their homework before a purchase, and know pretty well how much things cost.
Those sites which sell items for substantially less than the average tend to be suspect in my book (inaccurate description or specs, hidden costs/shipping, or outright misrepresentation)