Who's Shopping Online, Who Isn't and Why


Whether it’s that best seller their book club is reading, a last-minute birthday gift or their weekly grocery shopping, more and more of your customers are using online shopping as a quick, convenient and stress-free way to make their purchases.

In 2016, 8 in 10 American shoppers made a purchase online, a 250% increase since 2000. But the most recent surveys also show that except for books, toys, games and entertainment, most people would rather make their final purchase in-store rather than your digital channels. So, who are these people and how are their shopping habits and demographics connected? 

Women vs. Men

More women shop online and spend more time shopping online than men, though men are more likely to shop on their smart devices. That's not surprising when you consider that women control an estimated 80% of household spending.

Online vs. Offline

Despite the large numbers of people shopping online, only 8.5% of all purchases are made online, another indication that your customers still prefer shopping at your brick and mortar stores.


It may come as no surprise to know that millennials, the generation born between 1982 and 2004, buy more online than any other generation. They now account for almost a third of all consumer spending, accounting for $600 billion annually, despite having an average income that's lower than other demographics. But what may surprise you is that millennials make almost 50% of their purchases online. That should give you a strong indication of where the long-term trend lines are heading.

Baby Boomers

While millennials are making more of their purchases online than any other generation, people over 60 years old are less likely to use the internet for their shopping needs than other generations. Only 1 in 4 shoppers over 60 make regular use of online shopping. while it could make the weekly grocery shopping a little easier for them to do, many of them enjoy the opportunity to get out of the house and have things to do. Pensioners, in particular, are known for their frequent visits to the store because it gives them a reason to get out of the house.

Other Factors Affecting Online Purchases

Of course, age and sex are not the only influence affecting online purchase decisions. Fully 87% of online shoppers make a decision to make a purchase online based on price, shipping cost, and shipping speed, in that order. Clothes, shoes, and large ticket items are often bought in person because trying on clothes and speaking to a live person that you can trust creates a better shopping experience than hoping for the best when your online purchase is delivered.

Because they have different online purchasing habits, your online messaging to men, women, millennials and Baby Boomers needs to be a little different. And let's not forget that over 90% of transactions still take place at brick and mortar stores. Until that changes, it's important that you take an omni-channel approach to your retail marketing. 

About Brick to Click!

With nearly 20 years of experience in retail marketing, Sean Baker, president of IMM, has immeasurable insights and strategies to bring to you. With the Brick to Click blog and newsletter, he is here to provide the tips, tools and resources you’re looking for to take your in-store and online retail traffic to the next level.

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