Have Attitudes to Physical Stores Changed?

May 24, 2022

Digital commerce has been on the rise amid the pandemic, accounting for almost 1 in 3 discretionary dollars by the end of last year. But it remains to be seen whether this will be an inexorable rise; data from YouGov suggests that some people no longer see a need for in-person retail, but other research indicates that physical shopping remains the preferred option.

In its March survey of more than 1,000 adults, YouGov found that almost 1 in 5 (19% of) respondents said they enjoy shopping in-store less now than before the pandemic. Despite that significant portion whose perceptions have shifted negatively, 1 in 8 (12% of) respondents noted that they enjoy shopping in-store more now. And for about half, their feelings haven’t changed.

Of note, about 1 in 8 respondents said they’ve never liked shopping in-store. Combined with the 19% who say they enjoy it less now, this suggests that close to one-third are quite apathetic about walking into a store to do their shopping.

This is borne out with other results from the survey. Some 27% agreed with the statement that they go out of their way to avoid in-store shopping whenever possible, compared to 61% who do not go out of their way and 11% who don’t know.

Likewise, 27% of adults agree that after the pandemic is over they won’t have a need to return to in-store shopping, versus 63% who disagree and 10% who don’t know.

All told, this does indicate a shift towards e-commerce, most evident among the 1 in 5 respondents who said they enjoy shopping in-store less now than prior to the pandemic.

However, this doesn’t mean that e-commerce has now supplanted the in-store experience. In fact, a separate survey of 2,000 US adults from Emarsys reveals that a majority (54%) prefer bricks-and-mortar retail over any other channel. About one-fifth (21% share) prefer shopping via mobile phone, while 18% share pointed to laptops/computers as their preferred shopping channel.

Similarly, a recent survey from Morning Consult found that more US adults prefer shopping in-store (41%) than online (29%).

These attitudes may vary according to the category in question, though. In the Emarsys research, while there was strong preference for in-store shopping over online for food, the opposite was true for travel purchases. And for fashion, there was almost parity in preference between online and in-store shopping.

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