6 in 10 Americans Prefer Shopping In-Store to Buying Online

December 6, 2012

It’s the holiday season, and online spending is already breaking records, with the latest figures from comScore showing 14% year-over-year growth for the first 32 days of the season. But while e-commerce sales growth might be outpacing in-store sales growth (and getting more of the buzz as a result), it turns out that most Americans prefer shopping in-store to online, according to survey results from Ipsos. 59% of the Americans aged 18-64 surveyed online said they would rather make a purchase in-store than on their computer (31%), on their mobile phone (6%), or on their tablet (3%).

The survey reveals some very interesting preference gaps. For example, women are almost 25% more likely than men to prefer shopping in-store (66% vs. 53%). April findings from Bazaarvoice showed that they’re happier with those purchases, too: close to three-quarters of female survey respondents in that study gave the product they purchased in-store a 5-star rating, compared to slightly more than half of the men who bought in-store.

Men, meanwhile, are more likely than women to prefer making purchases on a mobile phone or smartphone (10% vs. 3%), or on a tablet (5% vs. 2%).

Unsurprisingly, younger consumers show a greater inclination to prefer shopping online. 48% of the 18-34 group said they would rather shop on a computer (32%) on a mobile phone/smartphone (11%) or on a tablet (5%), compared to 44% of the 35-49 set, and just 29% of the 50-64 group.

Preferences show a high degree of variance by household income, too. 78% of respondents from low-income households said they would rather buy in-store than online, a figure which drops to 65% among middle-income respondents, and 53% among wealthier Americans. That aligns with survey results from the Conference Board, which found lower-income Americans less likely to shop online this holiday season than their higher-income counterparts.

There is also a strong gap when looking at education level. 58% of Ipsos respondents with a high degree of educational attainment said they would rather make a purchase on a computer (41%), mobile phone/smartphone (9%) or tablet (8%). That falls to 42% among those with a medium level of education, and 31% of those with a low level of education.

Looking at purchases over a mobile phone or smartphone, business owners (36%) and senior executives/decision-makers/business leaders (30%) were by far the most likely to state this preference, at 5x and 6x the national average, respectively. These groups were also the most likely to choose tablet commerce.

Other Findings:

  • Globally, 56% of the respondents from 24 countries would rather shop in-store, slightly less than the American average. The same gender, age, household income, and education-level gaps found among Americans applied to the global average.
  • Hungarians (79%) and Canadians (75%) were the most likely to choose in-store purchases, while South Koreans (15%) were the least likely.
  • Half of the Chinese respondents would rather purchase on a computer than via any of the other methods outlined, the highest incidence among the 24 countries. Just 12% of Saudi Arabians chose this method.
  • 15% of Indians said they would rather make a purchase on a tablet, 3 times the global average. Just 1% of Hungarians agreed.
  • 36% of South Koreans would rather buy via their mobile phones or smartphones than in-store, on a computer, or on a tablet. That means that South Koreans are more than twice as likely to prefer mobile commerce to in-store shopping. On the other end of the spectrum, mobile purchases are unpopular in Belgium (1%) and Canada (2%).

About the Data: The Ipsos data is based on 12,000 online interviews conducted in September 2012 across 24 countries, with adults aged 18-64. The US data is based on a sample size of 500.


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