More shoppers here buy in-store than online: Survey

Consumers also spend more in shops than online; trend likely to continue

Brick and mortar retailers still have the march on their online counterparts, going by a recent consumer survey.

The poll of 1,002 Singaporeans found that 56 per cent of respondents indicated that their most often-used method to buy non-food items is in-store.

And when asked to rate their favourite haunts, 85 per cent said they visited a physical store at least once a month, much more than the 49 per cent for online stores.

Shoppers were also likely to snap up bigger-ticket items in-store than online.

The survey by consultancy CBRE Group in August last year found that 83 per cent spent $51 to more than $500 per month at brick and mortar stores, compared with only 68 per cent that did so online.

A sizeable proportion of online shoppers (33 per cent) spent $50 or less per month, compared with 18 per cent for in-store shoppers.

And it looks like the trend will continue - at least over the next two years.

Two-thirds of the respondents said they would not change their preference for shopping at a store over the next two years, with 21 per cent even intending to shop more at physical stores.

In fact, 29 per cent of respondents, aged 18 to 24 years old, said they would increase spending in stores over the next two years.

"This heralds growth for physical stores in the next two years," said Ms Letty Lee, CBRE's director of retail services.

"All the buzz around e-commerce gives the impression that physical stores are on their way out, but this is not true. The physical store remains the vital piece to the shopping puzzle."

However, she said that given how technologically savvy Singaporeans are, retailers should not neglect the online space.

It was found that all households here owned at least one digital device, and that half of those surveyed used social media to keep up to date on special offers and new shops at malls.

There is also cause for mall operators to cheer: 93 per cent said they headed to shopping centres to shop for non-food items.

What makes a shopping centre attractive? Rated "very important" were these three factors: Convenient to get to, cleanliness and security.

Ms Helen Khoo, executive director of WingTai Asia, which manages the Topshop and Dorothy Perkins brands, agreed with the findings. "People need interaction, and they want immediate gratification. They need to touch and feel, and they want to try on clothes," she said, noting that online giants like Amazon and Zalora recently opened physical stores.

"Singapore is a shopping nation. Shopping isn't just about buying something, it is about socialising and experiencing."

Civil servant Sham Ishak, 36, said that physical stores would never lose their appeal, at least not for him. He shops online once in three months, but heads to a physical store once a week.

"When you shop online, you cannot try on an item, and you can't touch it. Also, you don't know if a website is reputable," he said. "I prefer to just go to a shopping centre."

limjess@sph.com.sg