Online Buying vs. “Touch and Feel” Retailing

A new survey finds that Americans are fine with buying online, but still value the in-person shopping experience.

Polling firm Harris said it surveyed 2,241 adults last month, in an effort to gauge how the growth of online retailing is changing the way Americans view the shopping experience.

According to Harris, most Americans are taking advantage of online buying convenience — with majorities saying they’ve bought clothing (69%), digital content (59%), and accessories (54%) online.

Online shopping enthusiasm increases as the age of those polled decreases, with Millennials being the most likely to have made purchases online in most of the product categories Harris tested.

However, traditional shopping is far from dead: a whopping 78% of Americans polled by Harris still prefer to buy their food in person, while large majorities prefer to buy such things as over-the-counter-medications (67%), clothing (65%), prescription medications (58%), cosmetics (57%), specialty food and household electronics (55%) the “old fashioned” way.

While Harris found that the personal electronics category showed strong online shopping preference, more Americans still said they prefer to buy these items in person (43%) vs. online (22%).

The online environment is certainly a great place to research products — and offers a convenient way to buy them — but many people still want to handle the goods before pulling the trigger on a purchase.


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