It took me a handful of frivolous retail purchases to realize my money could be better spent on singles from eBay, anything from my defunct turned risen-from-the-grave LCS, or games of pool with my buddies.
When I first re-entered the hobby back in 2010, I would occasionally make a purchase from Target, as it was a couple of random retail packs that served to welcome me back into this glorious passion of ours. A blaster here, a loose pack there, and a jumbo pack mixed in for good measure.
It was definitely a lot of fun, but eventually I realized that it was - for me - money wasted, because I could buy actual cards I wanted from the aforementioned avenues of eBay or my local. Instead of the crapshoot that is retail, I could add an actual card of Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Russell Martin, Ryan Getzlaf, or any of the other guys I collect. An autograph, a relic, a short-printed parallel, or a bunch of packs with base and perhaps an insert, with the extremely rare hit (I think two via retail my entire retail career)?
For me, the decision quickly became obvious and easy.
I haven't purchased retail since about late 2010.
I know retail is for some pretty much the only option beyond eBay/COMC/etc., as their LCS is either nonexistent or entirely overpriced. To those, however, I would only say that eBay is a wonderful route to go, as is saving up for a box, be it Gint-A-Cuffs related or just to get that pack-ripping fix.