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Millennials still overwhelmingly prefer shopping in stores to online

Lauretta Roberts
21 June 2018

Despite the turmoil on the high street, almost three quarters of British millennial consumers prefer shopping in physical retail stores to online but they are less enthusiastic about dealing with sales staff, preferring them to be confined to pay points.

According to a study of 2,000 18 to 35 year-olds living in UK cities by creative and branding agency I-AM for its 2018 Retail Sector Report - The Convergence Continuum, 74% said they preferred shopping in physical retail stores versus 26% who stated a preference for online shopping. 36% said they preferred shopping malls.

But these digital natives still wanted to interact with their phones while in the physical retail world with 51% saying the would enjoy navigating stores using their phones and paying in-store on their phones.

They are less happy, however, interacting with sales associates in-store with 70% preferring they just be confined to pay points and 28% saying they would be happy for a store to have no staff at all.

The aversion to store staff may stem from the quality of service (or lack thereof) received in-store. 71% said store staff needed to be more knowledgeable and 46% believed they "hindered" the shopping experience, though 48% said they would still value help in-store.

Much has been made of late of millennials' desire for experiential and joined up omnichannel retail and they survey appears to bear this out. 45% would like to shop in a store that offered tutorials and workshops while 28% just wanted to shop. Being offered the opportunity to try goods on and facilitate their return at click & collect points was favoured by 56%, however 73% said they would prefer home delivery over click & collect.

Commenting on the report, I-AM Group Partner, Pete Champion, said: “Both online and offline, people prefer multi-brand stores over mono-brand ones. Retail has undergone a seismic change in the last decade. Though this has been largely driven by technology, our consumer attitudes to what shopping is and does has shifted dramatically and our needs, platforms and spaces have converged. We no longer shop in specific bursts, rather shopping hums along at our pace of life.

“Retail has become a continuous chain-reaction of movements, events, experiences and motives. Shopping has become relative – relative to context, person and place and has moulded into four dimensions of space and time. Shopping is no longer about the what and where, but how and when.”

Read and download the full report here.

I-AM, headquartered in Shoreditch, and with overseas offices in Istanbul, Dubai and Mumbai, has a portfolio of clients in many sectors including food and drink, banking, fashion, estate, telecom and tech, showrooms, education, transport and destinations – as well as retail.

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