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Smashing Shopping Stereotypes

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Retailers may think they have a firm grasp of all there is to know about the 18- to 25-year-old shopper, but a new study by a group of LIM College students, conducted in conjunction with the NRF Student Association, finds they may not be as tuned in to this young consumer as they think.

The study finds the use of technology for shopping by young people is overrated. In fact, more than 68 percent of the 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed “prefer to shop in stores than online for apparel and shoes,” according to the results.

“We have read and observed what industry leaders had been saying about our use of technology for shopping and it did not match our own habits and preferences,” said Alexis Michaelides, a member of the LIM College’s campus NRF Student Association (NRFSA). That disconnect prompted the NRFSA team to survey its peers, analyzing how 18- to 25-year-olds shop, where they shop and how much they spend. The survey also endeavored to determine preferences for shopping online and via mobile devices vs. in stores, and to examine the role social media plays in this group’s shopping activities.

The survey results suggest that retail observers have been overestimating young people’s use of online and digital technology for shopping. Some of the key findings of the study include the following:
• 68 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds would much rather shop in stores than online for apparel and shoes, suggesting that they like to touch, feel and try on a product before buying.

• They are using the web for gathering information; 66 percent use the web to browse and compare prices.

• 23 percent shop from a tablet or a smartphone.

• 18- to 25-year-olds are not as impulsive as commonly believed; 66 percent like to think about their purchase before buying.

• 56 percent pay for most of their purchases via debit cards vs. cash or credit cards.

• Even as the earliest adopters, only 20 percent shop from flash sale sites such as Rue La La or Gilt.com. In fact, the majority do not know of them.

• With regards to social media, this consumer will “like” a brand on Facebook, but more than 88 percent do not yet want to shop through Facebook or Twitter.

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