What Online Can’t Beat: Consumers Still Like Going to Stores

April 19, 2019

Online shopping has surged in popularity, but don’t count brick-and-mortar stores out. Consumers still want to shop, in-person.

Nearly 80 percent of consumers say they visited a store as much as or more than they did two years ago, according to a new consumer survey results conducted by ICSC, a global resource for the retail real estate industry.

A row of shopping carts

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“We are social beings and consumers have always valued the community experience that brick-and-mortar offers, whether for shopping, dining out, or going to a movie,” says Stephanie Cegielski, spokeswoman for the ICSC. “Today, they want it to include convenience and options beyond traditional retail.“

The primary drivers for getting consumers to brick-and-mortar locations are entertainment (61 percent) and dining (53 percent), the survey found. More retailers and shopping malls are getting creative in luring more shoppers away from their online buying sites and go to a store.

For example, the rise of entertainment areas or “esports”—organized multiplayer video game competitions—are growing in many malls and retail outlets lately, the National Real Estate Investor reports. Researchers call it “competitive socializing,” with activities like mini-golf, darts, and ping-pong, usually at locations that serve food and alcohol. Retail centers are also transforming into “town centers,” a blend of retail and entertainment, to try to get more consumers to stores, according to Green Street Advisors, a research firm.

Nearly half of millennials are spending more on food and beverage than they did two years ago, the ICSC survey found. The food and beverage sector has grown 4.3 percent year over year, ICSC research shows. “It isn’t surprising that all demographics are dining out more and looking for more options,” Cegielski says.

Many adults say they would like to live near retail. Seventy-eight percent of adults surveyed say they would like to reside in a “live, work, shop, play” community. Their top reasons were convenience or efficiency (55 percent) and easier access to amenities as they age (46 percent).

Further, more than 50 percent of consumers say these “live, work, shop, play” developments are more attractive to them than they were five years ago.

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