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Research + Studies

Gen-Z shoppers find physical stores way cooler than e-tail, ICSC study finds

Gen-Z shoppers overwhelmingly prefer shopping in physical stores to buying online, according to a recently released ICSC study that surveyed 13-to-19-year-olds.

When buying health and personal-care products, 84 percent of Gen Z-ers most often use physical stores, and 77 percent do so for apparel and footwear, says the study, titled Gen-Z Shopping Behaviors Support Retail Real Estate. For electronics purchases, 63 percent most frequently use brick-and-mortar stores. These numbers increase significantly when those who usually purchase online from retailers that also operate physical stores are added in. Overall, 93 percent of Gen-Z shoppers use retailers with a physical-store presence for their apparel and footwear purchases; 83 percent do so for electronics purchases; and 95 percent buy health and personal-care products from such retailers.

“No fewer than 76 percent agree that 'physical stores provide a more well-rounded and enjoyable shopping experience than online shopping'”

This is also a generation that likes shopping centers, the survey found. On average, Gen-Z shoppers visited a mall 8.6 times during the three months preceding the survey, and, overall, 95 percent of this age group went to a mall during the period. Fifty-eight percent say they go to physical establishments because it is a fun social activity to share with friends and/or family; the same proportion cites the ability to see, touch and/or try on merchandise, despite being “digital natives.” Fifty-three percent say it is the ability to get the item immediately that entices them to go.

So what would make Gen Z-ers go to malls more often? More leisure-and-entertainment options, according to 59 percent of these respondents. Specifically, 37 percent want more such venues as trampoline parks and indoor skydiving and laser-tag facilities; 35 percent desire more movie theaters; and 28 percent express a preference for bowling lanes, billiard halls and video arcades.

Forty-three percent say additional food-and-beverage offerings would make them hit the mall more often, and 32 percent say they would be influenced by more-unique retail concepts and/or a better selection of retailers.

In yet another nod to physical retail, 71 percent of these consumers say they expect to be visiting shopping malls five years from now. No fewer than 76 percent agree that “physical stores provide a more well-rounded and enjoyable shopping experience than online shopping.”

While all this suggests strongly that this is a generation to be taken seriously, landlords and retailers are wise to spare a thought for the older folk too: The survey found that 55 percent of Gen-Z shoppers have their parents or guardians pay for their purchases most of the time. Forty percent use their own money.

The survey of just over 1,000 of these young respondents was conducted May 15–22.

By Edmund Mander

Director, Editor-In-Chief/SCT

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