UK Consumers Still Prefer In-store Shopping

A pair of recent studies confirms that British shoppers still prefer to make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores if given the chance. One study, by London-based Adyen, reveals that even though 95% of British shoppers make purchases online, only 3% have completely abandoned brick-and-motor stores.

There are several reasons for this preference. “It seems that shopping in-store is preferred due to the experience and sociable aspects. 64% of people enjoy browsing and for 75% it is important to see, sample, touch and try on items. How else are you going to test the ripeness of a mango or the fit of a pair of jeans?”

The other study, “The True Value of Stores” by British Land, shows 89% of U.K. retail sales “touch a store. Even if shoppers decide to buy online, often that purchase is influenced by a brick-and-mortar store. When a new store opens, the study found, “traffic to the retailer’s website from the surrounding postal area increases by 52% within six weeks of opening.”

This creates a symbiotic relationship between physical stores and ecommerce platforms, according to the British Land study.

The Adyen study provides clues to why shoppers sometimes buy online after visiting stores. Customers get frustrated if they have to stand in line to complete purchases, something retailers could address by deploying mPOS (mobile point of sale) solutions but only 18% of retailers are planning to do so.

Another issue with in-store shopping is the typical 9-to-5 retail schedule that is no longer adequate for a “nation of consumers whose lives have become busier.” To solve this, the Ayden study suggests, “online channels can really help retailers extend the shopping experience.”

Online Shopping

Although they may prefer to make their purchases at brick-and-mortar shops, the British are not averse to online shopping, considering a whopping 95% of respondents said they shop online.

“The online shopping experience suits the British consumer to a T. For example, 69% of bargain-hungry Brits shop online as it lets them compare prices across different retailers and source the best offer or price. And 70% of us love the convenience of having goods delivered to our doorstep,” Adyen reported.

But British consumers will walk away from that convenience over delivery costs. “We discovered that 73% of shoppers have abandoned an online transaction if they believed the delivery cost to be too high.”

Among the items British shoppers prefer to buy online are books, music, pet care items and sports equipment. But for things like groceries, shoes and furniture, brick and mortar still rules. Here is the breakdown of the most popular in-store purchases:

  • Groceries – 70%
  • Shoes – 63%
  • Alcohol – 56%
  • Furniture – 55%
  • DIY – 53%
  • Clothing 51%

Given the right incentives, many English shoppers would spend even more at brick-and-mortar locations. 64% of study participants said personalized in-store offers would compel them to spend more time or buy more while in a store.

Other reasons Brits like to shop at physical stores have to do with the types of items they’re buying, according to the British Land study. For instance, furniture and groceries have low online penetration. Interestingly, online health and beauty sales are hindered by the success of stores in drawing people in, while in DYI and gardening, shoppers prefer brick and mortar to avoid buying the wrong item online.


The Adyen study offers compelling insights into how the attitudes of shoppers differ from those of retailers. It reveals a disconnect between shoppers and retailers. While 61% of shoppers are looking for ways to avoid standing in line, only 18% of retailers are planning to mobile payment technology that would shorten or do away with lines. The study also notes that even though 95% of consumers shop online, 21% of retailers don’t offer online shopping.

Adyen suggests there are opportunities to combine in-store and online shopping in a multichannel strategy. For instance, 42% of shoppers want the option to pay in store for out-of-stock items and have them delivered at home, and 34% want the same for any purchase. Only 20% of retailers, however, are planning to add home delivery for items paid in store in the next year.

Based on the study, it’s clear British retailers have some work to do since their plans and perceptions don’t always align with those of shoppers. But one thing is sure – U.K. consumers have no desire to turn their backs on the in-store experience, even if they also like the convenience of online shopping.

author avatar

By Andrew Carr

EMEA Managing Director
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