Pretty Much Everyone Buys Online, But Most Still Prefer Actual Stores

By Jennifer Van Grove
The San Diego Union-Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) According to the latest findings from the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans still prefer making purchases at actual stores as opposed to buying online.

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Online shopping may be the new norm, especially when it comes to scouring for good deals, but a new report finds that, despite a sea change in consumer behavior, American shoppers still fancy the old-fashioned, brick-and-mortar experience.

Roughly eight in 10 people, or 79 percent, have purchased something online, according to the latest findings from the Pew Research Center, which conducts public opinion polling and surveyed a nationally representative panel of U.S. adults in December 2015. The figure represents a drastic, four-fold increase from 16 years ago, when the firm first asked about online shopping in a June 2000 survey and found that just 22 percent of Americans had engaged in the behavior.

Yet, even with the proliferation of e-commerce, a majority of Americans, or 64 percent, prefer making purchases at actual stores as opposed to buying online when all things are equal, Pew found.

The fondness for physical stores, however, is most always overruled by more practical matters.

“Even as many online shoppers express preferences for physical stores in the abstract, their ultimate decision of where to buy something often comes down to price,” said report authors Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson.

So price trumps all for the 65 percent of the population who said they’ll buy from the venue, online or off, that offers them the best price. On the other hand, about one-in-five (21 percent) people indicated they would buy from stores without checking prices online, while just 14 percent said they would buy online without first checking prices at physical locations.

Interestingly enough, the brick-and-mortar bent isn’t just limited to older folks.

In an annual shopping study from market research firm GfK, fielded earlier this year, nearly half, or 47 percent, of all Generation Z (ages 18 to 24) U.S. shoppers said they’ve participated in a behavior called “webrooming,” which is the opposite of “showrooming” and means they researched something on one of their digital devices but ultimately bought it in a store.

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