by Krystina Gustafson
The mall’s future is looking a little brighter.
According to a new study by OpinionLab, digitally-savvy millennials are the only generation that prefers shopping malls over shopping carts, despite their penchant for technology.
The survey, which polled 1,103 consumers in April, found that 37 percent of millennials—defined as adults between ages 18 and 29—would rather shop at the mall, while only 27 percent would rather shop online.
That compares to 32 percent of older non-millennials who would rather buy online, and 23 percent who would rather visit the mall.
“The mall isn’t dead for millennials,” said Mark Treschl, president and chief technology officer at OpinionLab. “Instead, our research shows that the physical store remains a strong positive for retailers and that there are real advantages for omnichannel brands who can evolve the shopping experience around value, connection and meaningful tech features.”
The results are further evidence that although mall traffic is down and a growing number of sales are completed online, bricks-and-mortar stores—where the majority of transactions are made—are still relevant among shoppers.
It’s particularly surprising, OpinionLab noted, as m
illennials represent a generation that grew up alongside the internet, and are often associated with online shopping.
The appeal of physical stores
Although experts often say the mall’s biggest edge over online shopping is the ability for customers to touch and feel products, 93 percent of millennials—who have a reputation for being price-focused, savvy shoppers—said the most important factor to them when shopping at a retail store is good value and deals, at 93 percent.
The ability to touch and feel merchandise ranked second, with 61 percent of millennials saying this was important.
Still, despite their penchant for the physical store, an overwhelming majority of millennials do not think the store of the future is here.
Thirty-five percent of this group—which Nielsen said in a recent report place a premium on authentic and homemade goods—envision the store of the future as unique, cozy and quirky, and most similar to the experience delivered by handmade and vintage seller Etsy.
By comparison, non-Millennials are more likely to seek out an Amazon-type experience, which offers huge selection at the best value.
The report also found that overall, shoppers said they prefer retailers who operate both a physical store and a website to those who only have an online shop—a preference that has increased 12 percent since the holiday.
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