Online vs Offline Shopping

September 2018

Shopping is something that just about everyone does, but how we go about it differs from person to person. Some love to engage the senses while they browse. Others like to find the quickest way to grab – or simply click on – what they need. This is where the decision to shop online or offline comes in. But which one is generally preferred?

Shopping in a Click

To answer the question above, we surveyed the British public about their purchasing habits. We found that 51% of people spend more online, compared to just 39% who spend more in store.

Brits spend £3.14 billion on impulse purchases every month.png

In fact, Brits spend an average of £50 more when shopping online. In Edinburgh, almost one in five people spend an average of £75 more. This is balanced by the one in 10 people across the country who are not influenced by where they’re spending their money, but on what they’re buying.

Reasons for Online Shopping

The reasons that people give for choosing to shop online include convenience, speed, variety and cost. Avoiding crowds and not having to pay for parking are also right up there on the list.

So, it might seem that online shopping is the clear winner. But offline shopping offers technological advances, such as self-service, that help to make it an attractive option in this high-tech age.

At Your Self-Service

According to our survey, 57% of Brits prefer to shop in stores that offer self-service payment, while 42% prefer to be served by a human.


Those aged between 18 and 44 are the ones who favour self-service the most, with 75% of Brits in the 18-24 group preferring this option over human interaction. However, the over 45s prefer human interaction when shopping, with 70% of those in both the 45-54 and 54+ groups stating this as their preference.


In terms of gender, the split is fairly even, with 53% of men saying that they would opt for self-service compared to 47% of women.

The Personal Touch

Our findings reveal that when it comes to grocery shopping, only 17% of Brits consider human interaction to be important.


However, when shopping for medical or beauty items, this number shifts up to more than 74%. This leaves 26% of respondents who claim that human interaction is very unimportant, with some even stating that the embarrassment of asking for certain items leads them to seek out self-service options.

When shopping for clothing, human interaction is not necessary for more than half (63%) of us. One in three (37%) claim that they would only require human interaction if they can’t find what they are looking for or if they have an issue with an item they have already purchased.

Trying Before Buying

There is a middle ground when it comes to the question of online vs offline, and this involves finding items in store before buying them online. According to our survey, 75% of Brits choose to do this. The top products that people like to browse in store before buying online are:

  1. Mobile phones/gadgets
  2. Fragrances
  3. Jewellery
  4. Clothing (especially coats/jackets)
  5. Make up

The Big Picture

Overall, our survey shows just how much choice consumers have in today’s ever-changing retail environment. Offline or online? Or a mix of both? The decision is yours to make.  

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