Showrooming and Webrooming in the 2014 Holiday Shopping Season

New York , N.Y. – December 11, 2014 – Showrooming and webrooming – two sides of a single retail coin. Showrooming (examining a product up close at a brick and mortar store before going on to purchase it online) was a relatively new holiday trend to watch in 2012, while webrooming (wherein consumers do their research online and then head to the store to make a purchase) was one to watch in 2013. According to new data from The Harris Poll, both trends are still going strong, and each is looking to bring home some sales this holiday shopping season.

As of this year’s holiday shopping season, roughly half of Americans have showroomed (49%), up marginally from last year (46%) and more noticeably from 2012 (43%). Webrooming, meanwhile, stands strong with roughly seven in ten Americans (69%) saying they’ve taken this approach (on par with 2013 findings). When asked to think specifically of their 2014 holiday shopping intentions, half of U.S. adults (51%) plan on using (or have already used) at least one of these tactics (45% webrooming, 30% showrooming).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,042 nationally representative U.S. adults (aged 18+) surveyed online from December 2-4, 2014 and an additional 2,098 U.S. adults living in the top 10 American markets by population (roughly 200 per market), surveyed online from November 17-24 utilizing the MMQ platform, an omnibus survey offering a sample of the 10 largest metropolitan areas of the United States.

Showrooming might have been the first one on the media’s radar, but webrooming is currently holding an edge not just in the percentage of U.S. adults who have given it a try, but also in how much they spent the last time they did so. On average, showroomers report having spent $156.40 the last time they purchased a product online after looking at it in a brick and mortar store – continuing a steady decline from the $211.80 they reported in 2012 ($174.00 was the average spend reported in November 2013). Webroomers, meanwhile, report a mean bill of $200.70 the last time they made an in-store purchase after researching it online – not far off of the $203.90 reported last year).

Market matters

Looking across America’s 10 most populous markets, those in Washington, D.C. (54%); Atlanta, GA (53%); and Philadelphia, PA (52%) are the most likely to have ever showroomed. Those in Los Angeles, CA (43%) and Chicago, IL (44%) are the least likely to have done so.

As for webrooming, San Francisco, CA (81%) seems to be the top market for consumers having ever done so, followed by Philadelphia (78%). On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps it’s the city’s notorious traffic keeping Los Angelinos (59%) less engaged in the webrooming trend than their counterparts in other markets, though it’s certainly worth noting that six in ten have done so.

Turning to holiday shopping plans for 2014, those in the D.C. market (44%) are the most likely to have their sights set on showrooming this holiday season (or to have done so already), followed by those in Boston (40%) and Dallas/Fort Worth (40%). Los Angelinos (22%) are least likely to have done so or have plans to do so.

Philadelphians (55%), San Franciscans (53%) and residents of the Dallas/Fort Worth market (53%) are the most likely to indicate they plan on webrooming (or have already done so). Similar to past behavior, Los Angelinos (37%) are least likely to indicate that they’re planning to or already have webroomed.

Where do buy what?

When presented with a list of purchase possibilities, consumer preferences vary widely as to where they prefer to buy each.

  • In-person trips to big box stores are the top choice by a wide margin when it comes to buying both large (49%) and small (47%) household appliances, along with pet supplies (27%).
  • Big box stores are also the top selection – albeit by a narrower margin – for purchasing computers and personal electronics (35% each, followed in both cases by online at 29% each) and toys (25%, followed by online at 20%).
  • Retail chains are the top choice for clothing (32%, followed by big box stores at 29%), shoes (32%, with big box stores coming in second at 27%) and smartphones/cell phones (31%, followed by big box stores and online retailers at 21% each).
  • Local, individual stores or small chains (34%) narrowly edge out big box stores (32%) for groceries, followed by retail chains (27%).
  • Online is the top selection by a wide margin when it comes to purchasing books (43%), beating all other purchase channels by more than a 3:1 margin.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

For more information about the Harris Poll Major Market Query (MMQ) tool, or to get Harris Polls delivered to your inbox, click here.


TABLE 1

HAVE EVER SHOWROOMED

By Trend & Market

Thinking about shopping, have you ever visited a brick and mortar store to examine a product before purchasing it elsewhere online?

Base: U.S. adults

National Results

Top 10 U.S. Markets

Nov 2012

April 2013

Nov 2013

Dec 2014

NYC Metro

Los Angeles

Chicago

Phila-delphia

Dallas/ Fort Worth

San Francisco

Boston

Wash-ington, D.C.

Atlanta

Houston

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

43

40

46

49

49

43

44

52

49

48

46

54

53

48

No

57

60

54

51

51

57

56

48

51

52

54

46

47

52

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 2

HAVE EVER WEBROOMED

By Generation, Gender & Showroomers

And now, we’d like you to think of things the other way around. Still thinking about shopping, have you ever gone online to examine or research a product before purchasing it in person, at a brick and mortar store?

Base: U.S. adults

National Results

Top 10 U.S. Markets

Nov 2013

Dec 2014

NYC Metro

Los Angeles

Chicago

Phila-delphia

Dallas/ Fort Worth

San Francisco

Boston

Wash-ington, D.C.

Atlanta

Houston

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

69

69

75

59

68

78

68

81

75

76

72

73

No

31

31

25

41

32

22

32

19

25

24

28

27

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 3a

MEAN AMOUNT SPENT ONLINE LAST TIME SHOWROOMED – NATIONAL TREND

Thinking of the last time you purchased a product online after examining it in a brick and mortar store, how much did you spend online? If you are not sure, please provide your best estimate.

Base: U.S. adults who have ever showroomed

National Results

Nov 2012

April 2013

Nov 2013

Dec 2014

%

%

%

%

Mean spending

$211.80

$178.20

$174.00

$156.40

 

TABLE 3b

MEAN AMOUNT SPENT ONLINE LAST TIME SHOWROOMED – TOP 10 U.S. MARKETS

Thinking of the last time you purchased a product online after examining it in a brick and mortar store, how much did you spend online? If you are not sure, please provide your best estimate.

Base: U.S. adults who have ever showroomed

Top 10 U.S. Markets

NYC Metro

Los Angeles

Chicago

Phila-delphia

Dallas/ Fort Worth

San Francisco

Boston

Wash-ington, D.C.

Atlanta

Houston

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Mean spending

$130.90

$131.20

$178.70

$140.80

$133.60

$184.90

$180.90

$219.20

$176.80

$99.30

Denotes low base size (N<100); results should be interpreted as directional in nature

 

TABLE 4

MEAN AMOUNT SPENT IN-STORE LAST TIME WEBROOMED

Thinking of the last time you purchased a product in-store after researching it online, how much did you spend on the in-store purchase? If you are not sure, please provide your best estimate.

Base: U.S. adults who have ever webroomed

National Results

Top 10 U.S. Markets

Nov 2013

Dec 2014

NYC Metro

Los Angeles

Chicago

Phila-delphia

Dallas/ Fort Worth

San Francisco

Boston

Wash-ington, D.C.

Atlanta

Houston

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Mean spending

$203.90

$200.70

$161.40

$141.20

$210.70

$164.00

$332.10

$371.60

$155.60

$300.20

$182.70

$170.90

 

TABLE 4

SHOWROOMING AND WEBROOMIGN PLANS FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON

And thinking about shopping specifically related to this year’s upcoming holiday season (e.g., for gifts, decorations or entertaining needs), please indicate which, if any, of the following you anticipate doing (or have already done). Please select all that apply.

Base: U.S. adults

National Results

Top 10 U.S. Markets

Total

Men

Women

NYC Metro

Los Angeles

Chicago

Phila-delphia

Dallas/ Fort Worth

San Francisco

Boston

Wash-ington, D.C.

Atlanta

Houston

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Webrooming and/or Showrooming (NET)

51

58

45

56

41

52

61

60

59

56

57

52

54

Go online to examine or research a product before purchasing it in person, at a brick and mortar store (Webrooming)

45

50

41

48

37

45

55

53

53

48

48

49

46

Visit a brick and mortar store to examine a product before purchasing it elsewhere online (Showrooming)

30

33

26

35

22

30

32

40

38

40

44

27

35

I don’t anticipate doing either of these.

36

31

41

27

40

36

28

30

30

33

33

33

29

N/A – I don’t plan on doing any shopping related to the holiday season

13

12

14

17

20

12

11

10

11

11

10

15

16

Note: Multiple responses allowed


TABLE 5

PREFERRED RETAILER, BY PRODUCT TYPE

For each of the following, please indicate what type of retailer you most prefer to purchase it from.

Base: U.S. adults

Small household appliances

Desktop or laptop computer

Personal electronics

Toys

Large household appliances

Pet supplies

Clothing

Shoes

Smartphone/ Cell phone

Books

Groceries

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Big Box store, in person (e.g., Target, Best Buy)

47

35

35

25

49

27

29

27

21

12

32

Online retailer

19

29

29

20

7

6

19

17

21

43

2

Retail chain, in person (e.g., Apple Store, Gap)

13

20

16

10

16

14

32

32

31

10

27

Local, individual store/small chain, in person

12

6

6

6

13

16

15

18

9

13

34

NA – I don’t buy this item

9

10

14

40

15

37

4

5

18

22

4

Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding.


Methodology

National results for this Harris Poll were collected online, in English, within the United States December 2 and 4, 2014 among 2,042 adults (aged 18 and over). Market-level results were collected online, in English, within the United States between November 17 and 24, 2014 among 2,098 adults (aged 18 and over) in the top 10 U.S. markets (212 in the NYC Metro area, NY; 213 in Los Angeles, CA; 209 in San Francisco, CA; 206 in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; 210 in Houston, TX; 211 in Atlanta, GA; 210 in Chicago, IL; 211 in Boston, MA; 207 in Washington, D.C.; and 209 in Philadelphia, PA) using the Harris Poll Major Market Query (MMQ) platform.

Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #109, December 11, 2014

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll

 

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit the Harris Poll News Room.