Americans are incorporating a wide range of digital tools and platforms into their purchasing decisions and buying habits, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults. The survey finds that roughly eight-in-ten Americans are now online shoppers: 79% have made an online purchase of any type, while 51% have bought something using a cellphone and 15% have made purchases by following a link from social media sites. When the Center first asked about online shopping in a June 2000 survey, just 22% of Americans had made a purchase online. In other words, today nearly as many Americans have made purchases directly through social media platforms as had engaged in any type of online purchasing behavior 16 years ago.
But even as a sizeable majority of Americans have joined the world of e-commerce, many still appreciate the benefits of brick-and-mortar stores. Overall, 64% of Americans indicate that, all things being equal, they prefer buying from physical stores to buying online. Of course, all things are often not equal – and a substantial share of the public says that price is often a far more important consideration than whether their purchases happen online or in physical stores. Fully 65% of Americans indicate that when they need to make purchases they typically compare the price they can get in stores with the price they can get online and choose whichever option is cheapest. Roughly one-in-five (21%) say they would buy from stores without checking prices online, while 14% would typically buy online without checking prices at physical locations first.