Millennials Browse In-Store, but Buy Online

This behavior could be even more pronounced during the holiday shopping season

Even with the ubiquity of digital buying, the in-store shopping experience continues to have importance. And even more so with younger consumers.

How is this going to affect the holiday shopping season?

Jaime Bettencourt, senior vice president of premier sales and account management at Mood Media, told eMarketer that atmosphere and store experience was the lead reason why consumers ages 18 to 24 shop in-store instead of online. "Consumers still want to shop. They want that immediacy of buying and having an item," she said.

According to a new Euclid study, nearly half (48%) of millennials said they shop in-store a least once per week compared to 41% of Gen X and 43% of boomers. Interestingly, those store visits by millennials don't necessarily translate to in-store purchases. 

Instead, they spur online buying. After a store visit, 56% of millennials buy online at least half of the time compared to 45% of both Gen X and boomers. What's more, 21% of millennials "almost always" buy online after seeing an item in-store while just 10% of the older generations do. 

Looking towards the holidays, Euclid also found that millennials are more likely than other generations to shop in-store on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and even Cyber Monday, despite making 54% of their holiday purchases online. The top three in-store shopping holidays among this age group are Thanksgiving (37%), Black Friday (37%) and the day after Christmas (34%).

An earlier survey from Bazaarvoice showed all consumers are drawn to in-store holiday shopping for the social aspects and to simply enjoy the ambience. The pull of physical retail could be even stronger for younger shoppers, whether or not they transact online or offline. 

That's why it's important for retailers to strike a balance between ecommerce efforts and creating experiences that draw consumers—especially millennials—into stores for the holidays.