Amid Widespread Store Closures, Consumers Are Still Shopping Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

As retailers near the crucial holiday shopping season, a new study is lending more proof of brick-and-mortar retail’s staying power.

According to branded payments provider Blackhawk Network, in-store shopping is still alive and well despite widespread store closures due to the shift to digital commerce and increasing innovations. The firm’s latest survey on the state of retail found that 63% of consumers continue to make purchases at physical stores as often as they did last year. Additionally, 28% of respondents hit up retail stores more frequently, while just 9% of shoppers reported going to retail stores less often.

“Transformation is occurring across retail in response to changing consumer preferences, advancements in technology and the evolution of payments,” explained Blackhawk’s VP of marketing, Theresa McEndree. “Brands that are thriving are those actively looking for ways to overcome new challenges by creating fresh, seamless experiences to engage customers across the channels they find most valuable.”

The study, which gathered responses from more than 3,000 adults, also discovered consumers’ top motivators for shopping in stores: More than three-quarters of those surveyed valued the convenience of brick-and-mortar retail, while 56% cited speed. In fact, almost all (92%) of respondents said that the in-store shopping experience offered the highest satisfaction compared with other purchasing options.

Moreover, Blackhawk saw a significant number of repeat visits at physical stores — driven largely by loyal older generations, with 82% of baby boomers stating that they shop at retail stores at least monthly.

But despite brick-and-mortar’s solid foothold in the market, young shoppers continue to opt for digital and mobile shopping. According to the survey, a respective 83% and 81% of millennials and Generation Zers have made purchases through their phones, compared with 69% of Gen Xers and 43% of boomers. In general, nearly half of all respondents added that they shop using laptops or desktop computers at least monthly, while a total of 41% buy products through their phones.

Blackhawk’s survey comes less than two months before the prime holiday shopping season. According to professional services firm Deloitte, retailers can expect to see a gain of 4.5% to 5% in sales this year, compared with 2018’s increase of 3.1%. Overall, revenues between the months of November and January are predicted to exceed $1.1 trillion, versus the $1.09 trillion recorded the previous year.

“Retailers, across channels, should expect a strong holiday season in 2019,” added Rod Sides, vice chairman at Deloitte LLP. “Convenience is the new retail currency; retailers who offer seamless experiences, have products available and can deliver items more quickly than ever are most likely to win this holiday season.”

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