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Your Favorites Places and Ways to Shop Revealed


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You may think Amazon.com (AMZN) and its online rivals have conquered the world of shopping, but a new survey shows that most consumers still prefer to shop in the real world.

In fact, nine out of 10 purchases by American consumers still take place within the four walls of a brick-and-mortar store.

That's one finding of the A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study, which is based on a survey of the shopping preferences and behaviors of 2,500 consumers.

The study concludes that people just like to go out to shop: "Stores provide consumers with a sensory experience that allows them to touch and feel products, immerse in brand experiences and engage with sales associates who provide tips and reaffirm shopper enthusiasm for their new purchases," the survey's authors write.

A Trend Across Every Demographic

The preference for brick-and-mortar shopping was clear across every demographic, from teens to millennials, Generation X, baby boomers and seniors. Ninety percent of respondents in every age group said they preferred to make their purchases in a real-world store

Behind the numbers, though, it's clear that the Internet has radically changed the experience of shopping. More than half of all respondents said they habitually use a combination of online sources and physical stores throughout the process of researching, selecting, buying and bringing home a product. Two-thirds of those who made a purchase online also used a physical store before or after clicking the "buy" button.

The authors conclude that the best of all stores has both a website and a physical location to serve customers. Some of the savviest online brands have already figured that out. They're opening showcases for their products in the nation's most fashion-conscious cities.

First Online, Now in the Real World

The Los Angeles Times reports that online beauty store Birchbox recently opened a storefront in New York's SoHo district, and men's fashion site Bonobos is open for business in Los Angeles. Swimwear e-tailer SwimSpot reported strong sales at its first temporary pop-up store and found new customers among women who wanted expert fitting advice. The hip fashion site Nasty Gal also has announced plans for a real-world store.

No one is suggesting that online retail is a passing fad. The latest forecast from eMarketer predicts that total e-commerce sales will hit $304.1 billion in 2014, an increase of 15.5 percent year over year. That still represents just 6.4 percent of total retail sales for the year.

The eMarketer report estimates that there are now 219.4 million Americans aged 14 and older, and 89.6 percent shopped online this year.

The report notes the same phenomenon reported in the Omnichannel study: Consumers are browsing both online and real-world sources before making a decision. To put it in current marketing lingo, they're both "webrooming" and "showrooming." That is, they're researching on the web and then heading out to the stores, or vice versa.


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