Even though e-commerce has had a significant effect on brick-and-mortar businesses over the past 20 years, a new national poll shows online shopping has yet to overtake in-store purchases in terms of popularity, especially during the holiday season.
Thirty-six percent of respondents said they tend to do their holiday shopping at stores, while 31 percent said they go online, according to 2,201 U.S. adults polled Nov. 2-6. Twenty-three percent said they engage in an equal amount of online and in-store shopping.
Even adults under the age of 30 prefer shopping in a store to online purchasing — 34 percent to 31 percent — when it comes to checking items off their holiday gift list. The poll has a 2 percentage point margin of error.
“The vast majority of purchases still happen within four walls of a physical store,” said Kelli Hollinger, director of Texas A&M’s Center for Retailing Studies. Hollinger said the sentimental nature of holiday shopping pushes people off their devices and into stores.
Online sales comprised 9.4 percent of total retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2016, up from 8.7 percent during the same three-month period the previous year, according to government figures. Overall, online sales made up about 8 percent of the $4.8 trillion in U.S. retail sales last year.
“Giving is a mutual exchange — sometimes it’s more than the object,” Hollinger said in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s about choosing something that expresses your love for friends, family, or teachers. And that’s why many people will still venture to stores to personally choose the right gift.”
Fifty-eight percent of young adults said they prefer shopping on Black Friday, the traditionally in-store shopping holiday, while 42 percent said they favor Cyber Monday, which is usually tied to online shopping for the holidays. Traditional retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co. are among those that offer some of their Black Friday deals online.
Adults 45 and older prefer Monday’s online shopping experience during the holiday season, the poll showed.