US Shoppers Still Prefer to Make Most Purchases In-Store

Survey finds that for most products, in-store purchasing is the way to go

Across a variety of categories, US shoppers prefer to make purchases in-store rather than through digital channels, according to a new report from Market Track, a provider of subscription-based advertising, promotion and ecommerce intelligence solutions.

But when it comes to shopping (as opposed to actually buying) the results swung in a different direction.

In a survey conducted last month of over 1,200 US internet users who qualified as primary household shoppers, in-store purchasing beat out digital purchasing options by large margins for virtually every category of product. For big-buck purchases like cars, appliances and jewelry, an overwhelming majority of respondents preferred buying in-store to buying online.

There were only three types of products that consumers preferred to buy online—books, toys & games, and entertainment. And except for books, the difference was negligible.

But, setting aside product categories, the survey also asked about shopping preferences, and here the response was quite different.

When asked whether they preferred to do most of their shopping in-store or via digital channels, only the very oldest in the study—those 60 and older—said they preferred in-store shopping. And even amongst those older consumers, the preference for stores was a bare majority. (The question focused on non-grocery items.)

For all the other age groups, digital channels were preferred for shopping. Not surprisingly, the youngest group tilted the most toward digital. Fully 78% of younger shoppers (ages 18-29) said they preferred to do most of their shopping online rather than in-store.

And for those ages 21-29, mobile was the preferred shopping channel.

The preference for mobile shopping is not a surprise, given the growing amount of time that Americans spend on mobile devices. eMarketer estimates that the average US adult spends more than 3 hours per day on mobile.

But purchasing via mobile is still less common. eMarketer estimates that mobile commerce sales will make up just 3.1% of total retail sales this year.