Most Consumers Still Prefer In-Store Shopping

There’s a growing preference for retailers that offer contactless, curbside pickup.

September 17, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Sixty-five percent of U.S. consumers surveyed in a new poll are OK with traditional in-store shopping, with the remainder saying they’d prefer to avoid brick-and-mortar retailers, Business Insider reports. What’s more, 72% of 2,000 people polled said they are more likely to shop with retailers that offer contactless, curbside pickup.

The poll was conducted by market research firm Harris Insights and Analytics and Sense Photonics, a company that makes 3D sensors and industrial robotics. The 2020 Retail Consumer Behavior Poll found that shoppers want less human interaction and more automation. Seven in 10 respondents said they’d prefer zero human contact during their shopping experience.

Retailers worldwide are responding to these changes in consumer attitudes.

In the United Kingdom, more than one in four industry leaders believe the pandemic has accelerated a “technological revolution” in retail, according to a recent survey of 300-plus senior retail executives by Barclays Corporate Banking. Some sectors are changing faster than others. The fashion industry is leading the way in social media sales, with 37% of fashion retailers selling more than usual through social media.

Nearly a third of U.K. retailers have invested in new online sale technology, and more than one in eight have created new jobs to cope with higher demand, Barclays found. On Monday, e-commerce giant Amazon announced 100,000 new job openings in the U.S. and Canada after sales soared during the pandemic, and Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket, said last month that it would permanently hire 16,000 new staffers after “exceptional growth” in online sales.

Findings from polls show that consumers now prefer non-traditional ways of shopping. Karen Johnson, Barclay’s head of retail and wholesale, said customers are increasingly visiting shops to purchase rather than to browse, and the average basket size has grown.

Even though stores have begun reopening post-lockdown, many customers are still shopping online. The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics reported that customers made 28.1% of all retail sales online in July. This is about 50% higher than in February, before the lockdowns began—but lower than in May when online sales peaked at 32.8% of all retail sales.