One in three Americans would happily never set foot in a store again, a new survey of consumer behaviour shows

Tashdique Mehtaj Ahmed/Getty Images
  • 35% of Americans would be happy to avoid traditional in-store shopping, according to a survey by sensor company Sense Photonics and Harris Insights and Analytics, the market research company.
  • In-store sales are also becoming increasingly transactional, and customers are now less likely to browse.
  • Retailers are already responding to these changes in consumer behaviour by investing in new technology and creating jobs to meet online sales demand.
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More than one in three Americans would be happy to never set foot in a store again, a new survey shared with Business Insider shows.

And nearly three-quarters of 2,000 people polled said they are more likely to shop at stores that offer contactless, curbside pickup than places without these services.

The poll, conducted by market research firm Harris Insights and Analytics and Sense Photonics, a company that makes 3D sensors and industrial robotics, showed that 35% of Americans would be happy to avoid traditional in-store shopping forever.

Retailers are already responding to these changes in consumer behaviour, which are being seen across the globe.

In the UK, more than one in four industry leaders believe the pandemic has accelerated a “technological revolution” in retail, according to a survey of more than 300 senior retail executives by Barclays Corporate Banking earlier this month. Some sectors are changing faster than others — the fashion industry is leading the way in social media sales, with 37% of fashion retailers selling more than usual through social media.

Nearly a third of UK retailers have invested in new online sale tech and more than one in eight have created new jobs to cope with higher demand, Barclays found. E-commerce giant Amazon announced 100,000 new jobs across the US and Canada on Monday after sales soared during the pandemic, and Britain’s largest supermarket Tesco said in August it would permanently employ 16,000 new staff after “exceptional growth” in online sales.

In-store sales are becoming increasingly transactional, Shauna McIntyre, CEO of Sense Photonics, told Business Insider, and the pandemic has been a “catalyst” for this. To save time and reduce distractions in-store, customers are spending more time using the internet researching products before they leave home.

Sense Photonics store online graph pollSense Photonics & The Harris PollThe polls findings show that consumers increasingly prefer non-traditional ways of shopping.

Barclays’ research found this too. Karen Johnson, the bank’s head of retail and wholesale, said customers are increasingly visiting shops to purchase rather than to browse — and this means that the average basket size has grown.

Even after stores have begun reopening as coronavirus lockdowns ease, many customers are still choosing to shop online. The UK’s Office for National Statistics reported that customers made 28.1% of all retail sales online in July. This is around 50% higher than in February, before lockdown began — but lower than in May, when online sales peaked at 32.8% of all retail sales.

Bricks-and-mortar stores have been badly hit by the pandemic. Department store JCPenney announced in May it was closing around 30% of its stores, GameStop said it expects at least 320 stores to shut in 2020, and lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret plans to close 251 stores in the US and Canada by the end of the year.

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