Despite the availability of online retail, many consumers in the Pacific Northwest still prefer to do their holiday shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, according to a Washington State University study.
The WSU Carson College of Business’s third annual holiday retail survey of more than 1,700 people in Washington, Oregon and Idaho showed 43 percent of consumers prefer to do their shopping in-store.
While online shopping is still popular, especially on Cyber Monday, the percentage of people who prefer online shopping has not increased significantly from last year, said Joan Giese, WSU clinical associate professor of marketing.
Giese said shoppers value the customer service that comes with in-store shopping and have a desire to support companies that affect the local community. She said customers also like the experience of walking around a store and being inspired by what they see.
Marie Dymkoski, executive director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an email she was not surprised by the results of the study.
“Yes, online sales are growing, but people still desire to see, touch, smell, and experience shopping in brick and mortar stores,” she wrote. “I think many of us recognize that we should and must support our local family owned stores and keep our tax dollars in our own communities.”
Not all in-store shopping is done in locally owned businesses, the study shows.
Eighty one percent of those surveyed said they shop at discount retailers like Walmart, and 59 percent shop at home improvement stores like Lowe’s.
But 81 percent of shoppers did indicate that small and local businesses provide better service than big box stores.
Giese said the survey’s results should be a reason for optimism for small businesses, though she said retailers should still adapt their strategy to compete with online shopping. She suggests they should work to minimize the wait time at their store, much as possible, and establish an online presence to go with the physical presence.
If customers do go out shopping, they are less likely than before to do it the day after Thanksgiving.
“Black Friday continues to lose its allure,” Giese said.
While 76 percent of shoppers plan to shop on Cyber Monday, 56 percent planned to shop on Black Friday.
Giese said Black Friday has lost its distinction as the only day a shopper can get a good deal on items, especially with the emergence of Cyber Monday. There are generational differences, too, as Millenials are more likely to opt out of shopping on Black Friday than Baby Boomers, Giese said.
The study shows a small percentage of shoppers in general are willing to shop on Thanksgiving, and those that do are more likely to shop online.
Giese said most people would rather spend the holiday with their family.
“You can’t put a price on holiday happiness,” she said.
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