Even though there’s so much focus on digital channels these days, only 21 percent of consumers said they buy the majority of their goods online, a recent NRF survey found.
Washington--Despite the increased focus on digital and mobile shopping channels, most consumers still shop in stores primarily, according to a new study from the National Retail Federation.

The NRF just launched Consumer View, a quarterly report designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends.

It partnered with Toluna Analytics to produce the reports, surveying 3,002 consumers between July 20 and 25, and released the first edition with insights into experiences with technology, what brings the younger generation into the store, and what differentiates the online and in-store shopper.

What did the survey uncover about where consumers are shopping today? Among the insights was the fact that brick-and-mortar retail remains an important touchpoint for modern consumers.

In fact, 79 percent of consumers said they purchase half or less of their items online, meaning the majority of them still are primarily in-store shoppers. Only 21 percent indicated that they buy the majority of their goods online.

The latter number, not surprisingly, goes up to 34 percent when isolated to just Generation Z and its slightly older counterpart, Generation Y or the millennials.

However, that doesn’t mean members of these two demographic groups no longer visit stores.

“This report shows that the bricks-and-mortar store is still the cornerstone of American retail and likely will be for many years to come, as consumers seek authentic interaction and experiences with retailers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Despite the changes in our industry, there is an appeal to seeing and touching merchandise in person and being able to engage with fellow human beings that has yet to go away. Even younger shoppers see the value of the store.”

When it comes to convincing the younger generations to come into the store, the survey shows that they can be swayed to visit physical stores when they are offered a new experience, or to pick up products purchased online.

And, in fact, about half of millennials and Gen Xers surveyed indicated they’re shopping in stores more than they were a year ago.
“Despite the changes in our industry, there is an appeal to seeing and touching merchandise in person and being able to engage with fellow human beings that has yet to go away.”-- Matthew Shay, NRF
In the survey, this holds true across all age groups. Fifty percent of survey-takers said they are visiting physical stores about the same as they used to, with another 28 percent saying they are doing so more often.

And even though, overall, 74 percent of respondents said they typically visit a store to pick up something specific rather than to browse, the younger generation is more likely to see a retail store as an opportunity to socialize--to hang out with friends, to talk to a sales associates and to explore.

The Technology Touch
Interestingly, while many conversations regarding the retail industry revolve around the technologies that will create the “stores of the future,” the NRF’s survey showed that many of these still are on the periphery of consumer awareness and usage.

Today’s shoppers are more concerned with the innovations that impact the most important parts of their retail experience--how they pay for items and how they get their purchases.

As such, payment and fulfillment technologies lead consumer awareness; nearly seven out of 10 consumers have heard of mobile payment options and “buy online, pick up in store” options, and more than half have tried them.

Meanwhile, with in-store digital displays, for example, only 30 percent of consumers are aware of that technology. Of those, only a little more than half have actually tried them. For augmented reality, that number decreases to 20 percent aware and about half having used the technology.

When it comes to what they want next, shoppers are most interested in trying 3-D printing and drone delivery.

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