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18 to 25 Prefer to Shop In Store Versus Online

Rachel Van Marter, a Roosevelt University student, prefers to shop in store instead of online when purchasing from

Forever 21 store, Briarwood Mall, Ann Arbor, MI

her favorite stores, Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe.

“I like to look at the clothes online, but I never buy them because I want to know how it’s going to look and feel before I commit to buying it,” said Van Marter, 20.  “A few weeks ago my roommate bought a dress online and then put it on and decided she didn’t actually like it so she gave it to me.  I reaped the rewards of her online shopping, but I would never want that to happen to me.”

Even though her generation is tech savvy with laptops and smartphones, her preference is matched in a recent study done by LIM College in New York, on shopping trends in the 18 to 25 age group that found 68 percent prefer to shop in stores over online.

Marla Greene, a full-time faculty member in LIM College’s Marketing and Management Department said she is in charge of LIM’s chapter of the National Retail Federation Student Association, the club that conducted the survey.

“It’s a club on our campus,” said Greene.  “We decided to make this survey one of our projects.  We uploaded the survey into SurveyMonkey and had students post it on their Facebook pages and send out messages to their friends to answer the survey questions.”

Greene said that LIM College has four concentrations: Fashion Merchandising, Marketing, Management, and Visual Merchandising.  The slogan of the school is “Where Business Meets Fashion.”

“LIM College is where students come to learn about entering into retail,” said Greene.

Julie Hillery, professor of fashion studies at Columbia College Chicago, said she agrees with the findings and so does one of her classes when she presented them with the outcome of this survey.

“[My class] said they did not like shopping online for clothes,” said Hillery, 54.  “Some of the reasons they gave were they wanted to try on the clothes, they wanted to check out the material, which you can not gauge well online from pictures, and they also wanted to see the color in person.”

Hillery said that some students didn’t like the added expense that comes along with online shopping such as shipping and if you don’t like it, the expense of returning it.  She said that stores really need to think about this survey more.

“This study has some key findings for those brick and mortar stores looking for new customers,” said Hillery.  “They should be reaching out to this customer base rather than assuming they are online shoppers.”

Dana Connell, associate chair and professor of fashion studies at Columbia College Chicago, said her classes agree with the findings in the survey, but they do go online to check prices, style, and blogs.  This is also true according to the survey findings of 66 percent using online to browse and compare prices.

“We regularly discuss e-commerce in the classroom and overwhelmingly our students echo this survey,” said Connell, 50.  “This age group is less time starved than other demographic groups and thus, shopping is one of their modes of entertainment.  For the 18 to 25 age range, they want it now and now means shopping Saturday and wearing it that night.”

Connell said that the kind of fashion makes a difference when buying in store or online because some outfits need to be bought in store to ensure that it looks right on you.

“I think part of their desire to shop in stores is they want to try clothes on, “ said Connell.  “Fast fashion can have a variety of fit issues that need try-on.  This is different from classic fashion that comes with a fit expectation.”

Caitlin McGee, senior supervisor and visual merchandise manager at Levi’s in Woodfield, Ill., said it depends if the person follows trends or not and that she ordered something online that day.

“I do believe that some of the findings apply, yes,” said McGee.  “To those shoppers that are the general public, go with the flow, follow the trend type person.  But if you’re looking for something that is more fashion forward, cutting edge, ahead of the trend, then I would say the only real place you’re going to find it is online.”

McGee said that shopping online opens up people to what other places around the world, such as London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo and Australia, consider fashionable and that the findings say a lot about who was polled in the survey.

“[The people surveyed] don’t like to take the risk of just buying the product before actually trying it on, meaning they’re part of the population that are less likely to try new fashion, which is a lot of what is found on the internet.”

Aaja Corinne Carr, a young Chicago stylist, model coach, and COO of Beau Ideal, a Chicago fashion event production company, said she thinks the findings are accurate and she prefers to shop in stores, both as a stylist and shopping for herself.

“As a stylist I prefer to shop in stores because there is no universal size chart meaning that a size six in one designer’s line may not have the same fit as another designer’s line,” said Carr, 21.  “Also, depending on your computer, the color of the merchandise may not be shown accurately.”

Carr said that shopping in stores can also be a way to have a good time.

“Shopping in-store allows you instant gratification,” said Carr.  “For those who like to shop, the in-store experience is a bonus as well.”


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