Even as the number of online buyers continues to rise—we forecast 79.6% of US internet users will make at least one purchase via digital means in 2018—consumers like to shop in-store for certain product categories and occasions.
According to a July 2018 Monetate survey of US consumers with one or more children under the age of 23, brick-and-mortar stores were favored for back-to-school shopping. Fully 56% of respondents planned to buy items in-store, compared with 20% who planned to do so online. Just 7% planned to use mobile retail apps. However, 67% will brows digitally before making a purchase.
Over 80% of respondents favored the offline channel when shopping for school supplies, with clothing and accessories a close second. Physical stores were also preferred for dorm furnishings and electronics but to a lesser degree.
A July 2018 National Retail Federation (NRF) survey about back-to-school spending didn't find as an extreme preference for offline channels, but department stores were the leading location where US internet users planned to purchase those products, cited by 57% of respondents. Digital channels (55%) and discount stores (52%) were nearly as popular.
A June 2018 survey by Valassis discovered that nearly all US internet users (96%) shopped in-store for apparel, shoes and accessories. While many are comfortable shopping for these items digitally, physical stores excel at demonstrating fit and fabric and materials.