|credit: Huffington Post|
I read some interesting, though not all that surprising, statistics recently in the Wall Street Journal about our changing shopping habits. In an annual study conducted by UPS, 51% of purchases are made online and 44% of smartphone users use their phones to make purchases. Only one in five say that they continue to make the majority of their purchases in a brick and mortar environment.
As a former market researcher, I must point out the obvious bias inherent in the survey results: all 5,000 of those participating in this survey have made online purchases recently. They are predisposed to be fans of the online shopping experience. So, it is not possible to project these results to the population as a whole.
Even so, other, more independent, studies have shown a strong shift to buying products online. More than half the U.S. population will make at least one purchase on the Internet this year. Quarterly sales results from traditional department stores or narrowly focused retail establishments, like office supply stores, show continued erosion in their ability to fend off competitors like Amazon.
Importantly, to readers of Satisfying Retirement Journey, the move to online shopping by older adults continues to increase at a rate even higher than those in their 20's and 30's. While fear of credit card fraud or identity theft remain a hindrance to some, comfort in the safety of online shopping, along with the convenience of free, quick shipping, and simplified return policies, has made our age group a vital segment of that shopping experience. Besides, merchants like Target and Home Depot can lose millions of customers' private data to hackers just as easily (apparently) as online shopping stores.
As I write this post, I have just returned from a physical store shopping trip for some new home furnishings and supplies for an upcoming birthday party for my granddaughter. On the two days prior to this, I ordered several things for our dog and future travel supplies online. It was convenient and simple. Besides, with an outside temperature of 110, staying inside was a no-brainer.
When I shop in a series of brick and mortar stores I tend to spend more because I see something that catches my eye for our house or a family member. When shopping at Amazon or some other online merchant, I am looking for something specific and stop when I have found it. So, the dollar amounts I spend when I physically drive to retail establishments is higher. But, I shop much more frequently online, so the overall expenses for the year are probably quite comparable.
Regardless, Internet shopping will continue to grab a larger share of our purchasing dollars. I see no logical path back to the days when shopping malls or large department stores controlled the lion's share of purchasing dollars. With Amazon now selling virtually every product imaginable and promising same-day delivery in major metropolitan areas of the country, the trend is undeniable: we are choosing convenience over our physical presence in a retail establishment.
What about you?
How have your shopping habits changed over the last few years? Do you prefer to shop in stores for most of what you buy or are you finding the convenience of the Internet too compelling? Like me, do you notice a difference in the amount you spend when shopping in a "real" store versus online? Do you worry about credit card or identity theft when paying for something over the Internet?
I am quite interested in your feedback.