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Most UK shoppers still prefer stores to ecommerce: study

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Most British shoppers still prefer to buy on the high street, rather than online, a new report shows.

Despite the fast growth of ecommerce in the UK, fewer than half (41%) of UK shoppers are today completely happy to buy online, according to The Future of Online Retail Report. At the same time, 59% of the 2,000 UK adults questioned for the YouGov research, which was commissioned by, said barriers still exist that are holding them back from doing so.

The report shows a steady change in the UK public’s attitude – back in 2012 only 26% said they saw no barriers to buying online. But there are key factors holding back those who still decline the internet opportunity, ones that retailers must overcome in order to encourage more buyers to go digital.

Some 18% say they simply prefer to shop on the high street because it’s a more real or social experience, while 30% want to see the item they’re buying before they commit. That’s even more so for younger shoppers: 33% of 18-24-year-olds say they prefer to look and feel for themselves.

Then, the difficulty of arranging convenient delivery puts off some 18% while 21% shy away from the internet because of the hassle of returns.

Finally, 19% say they don’t feel safe putting their personal details and payment information online. That’s down from 23% in 2011.

Marina McKeever, senior sales director at, said: “Despite the evident shift in consumer shopping habits over recent years, the majority of consumers still prefer to transact in bricks and mortar stores.

“The high street experience is still hugely important and online shoppers still use it as part of the shopping process. Brands who want to be truly successful will need to adapt their strategies to become more multichannel, encouraging consumers to interact with brands through a range of channels, regardless of where they end up transacting.”

Even among those who have shopped online, some still refuse to buy some categories of goods over the internet. Some 20% say they have never bought clothing online, while 43% have never bought groceries. One in eight say they will never buy clothes online (12%) and a qurter (25%) say they will never buy groceries.

Top reasons given not to shop online

1. Need to see the physical object first: 30%

2. Potential fuss of returning the item at the Post Office: 21%

3. Lack of information about the product: 21%

4. Security concerns about putting personal information and payment details online: 19 per cent

5. A preference for the more sociable experience of shopping on the high street: 18 per cent

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