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Though Majority of Americans Have Made a Virtual Purchase, They Still See Virtue in the In-Person Shopping Experience

Though Majority of Americans Have Made a Virtual Purchase, They Still See Virtue in the In-Person Shopping Experience


Shipping costs are the top online shopping pet peeve

NEW YORK, July 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- There aren't that many items left that we can't order online these days. From low cost knick-knacks to high end automobiles, it's tough to imagine a category that hasn't seen at least some online retail penetration in the past few years. And Americans have certainly taken the opportunities offered, with majorities saying they've purchased clothing (69%), digital content (59%), and accessories such as handbags and shoes (54%) online, while half (49%) have purchased personal electronics such as digital music players or tablets in this fashion.

Harris Poll Logo.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,241 U.S. adults surveyed online between June 11 and 16, 2014.  (To see the full results including data tables, click here)

Most of these purchases are taking place on traditional computer screens, though smartphones and tablets are making some clear inroads:

  • Among smartphone owners, two in ten have purchased digital content via such devices (20%) while nearly one in ten have used a smartphone to purchase clothing (9%), accessories (8%), and personal electronics (9%).
  • Over a third of tablet owners have used such a device to purchase digital content (36%), while roughly two in ten have used a tablet to purchase clothing (22%) and accessories (19%). Nearly two in ten have used a tablet to purchase personal electronics (16%), while roughly one in ten say the same of cosmetics and personal grooming products (12%) and household electronics (9%).

Predictably, younger generations are more likely to have made purchases online in most of the product categories tested; the exception to this is prescription medications, with four in ten Matures (40%) saying they have purchased these online vs. roughly a fourth of most Baby Boomers (27%) and Gen Xers (26%) and fewer than two in ten Millennials (18%).

Women are more likely to have purchased clothing (75% vs. 63%), accessories (60% vs. 47%) and cosmetics/grooming products (41% vs. 28%) online, while men are more likely to have purchased digital content (62% vs. 56%), personal electronics (55% vs. 43%) and household electronics (49% vs. 37%) online.

Favoring face-to-face

However, while online shopping is being utilized by many Americans, there is still a clear preference for shopping in-person across most of the product categories tested. Nearly eight in ten U.S. adults indicated an in-person preference for general food purchases such as groceries (78%), roughly two-thirds for over the counter medications (67%) and clothing (65%) and over half for prescription medications (58%), cosmetics/grooming products (57%), specialty food and beverages (57%), household electronics (55%) and accessories (52%). Even personal electronics, the category showing the strongest online shopping preference, shows a roughly 2:1 ratio of Americans expressing an in-person (43%) vs. online (22%) shopping preference.

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