The retail go-to-market approach continues to evolve. We frequently read about retailers growing, contracting or re-inventing their multichannel sales approach. While the second industrial revolution lasted from 1850 to 1914, it seems the current retail revolution is happening at lightning speed.
I see the revolution on my daily commute: an ocean of heads down, shopping on mobile devices. I see it in my building: online-shopping packages flooding the lobby. In the commercial real estate industry, too, I see shifts in physical retail spaces: pop-up shops, online brands opening brick-and-mortar locations, buy-online / pick-up-in-store options, experiential retail. The rate of adaptation is fast, necessary and unprecedented.
The Crux – You Can’t Ignore In-Store Shopping
Despite the rising popularity of online shopping, nearly all U.S. consumers (99%) shopped in a physical store in the past 12 months. This finding comes from new research commissioned by Coldwell Banker Commercial® and conducted online by The Harris Poll among over 2,000 U.S. consumers, in which Americans’ preferences surrounding in-store shopping were assessed.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a boon to us in the retail and commercial real estate sectors. Key takeaways from the survey point at holidays, supporting community and personal connections help to drive behavior.
- Holiday Shopping. It’s that time of year. The holiday season is the best time for retailers to draw consumers with special deals and convenience. It’s also an opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers to create unique experiences for consumers and to present options not available online, like personal assistance, speaking with local shop owners or browsing in person for unique gifts. More than 9 in 10 consumers (92%) plan to shop in a physical store for gifts this holiday season, with top reasons that include:
- Take advantage of sales/coupons (55%)
- Experience a product before buying it (50%)
- Look for unique gifts (49%)
- Find something specific (49%)
- Support the community. Shopping in physical stores makes consumers feel good. More than 4 in 5 consumers (81%) say they feel they are making a positive contribution to their community by shopping in stores. Whereas online shopping offers many Etsy-esque crafted options, neighborhood stores often offer similar personal and artisan products sourced locally.
- People like the social experience of shopping. Younger generations are more likely to go to stores to kill time (35% of those ages 18-34 vs. 17% ages 35+) and spend time with friends (33% of those ages 18-34 vs. 20% ages 35+), e.g., “Come with me to check out the new phone and grab a bite.” Physical stores and shopping venues still provide a place for us to gather and share experiences.
- Consumers value in-store experiences and personalized assistance. Over two-thirds (68%) of consumers say when they shop in a physical store, they tend to look for in-store experiences. Half of consumers (50%) say they would sacrifice spending less on a product online in order to get personalized assistance or advice from an in-store sales associate.
Consumer preferences for retail shopping are evolving quickly, while the move from Main Street to the regional mall took place over a decade. Our consumption preferences alter how retailers position their products and change the demand for real estate, impacting both retail and industrial real estate. In the end, there is still a place for in-person shopping.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates from September 24-26, 2019, among 2,027 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Kristin Cockerham.