Is the Mall in Trouble?

A major shopping study has found that 39 percent of those with access to the Internet spend less time at the mall and local stores because they can easily buy products online.

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The Internet has overtaken the mall and catalogs as the point of purchase for computer software, according to the “Shopping 2000” study by Greenfield Online. While the tendency to window shop online is about the same as at local stores (70 percent vs. 71 percent), the Internet still trails local stores (49 percent vs. 68 percent) as the place where online shoppers make their software purchases.

Shopping for clothes online is almost as popular as shopping for clothes through a catalog, the study found. More consumers use catalogs (38 percent) than browse online (30 percent), yet local stores (70 percent) and malls (75 percent) are still the place to window shop for clothes.

Consumers are just as likely to buy books online (49 percent) as at the mall (51 percent), Greenfield found. Local bookstores are still going strong, however, 63 percent of consumers still buy at their books there, the study found. Browsing for price and availability of books is done in equal amounts online and at local stores.

“These results are significant to retailers, since Americans who use the Internet hold 60 percent of the buying power of the total US population,” said Rudy Nadilo, Greenfield Online’s CEO.

Consumers told Greenfield Online the best things about online shopping were its quickness and ease to compare prices. It also allowed them to shop anytime. The mall won points for being able to touch products and for the ability to get the product right then and there.

The Shopping 2000 study is conducted twice a year by Greenfield Online. it is based on a sample of 1,286 respondents drawn from an Internet user panel of nearly 1 million people. The study was conducted from Dec. 23 to Jan. 6, 1999.

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