Youngsters expect ‘showrooming’ to be future of high street, says Amaze study

Young people expect ‘showrooming’ to be the “core function” of the high street in future, according to a study of 10-15 year olds by Amaze.

The findings mark the latest wave in a five-year research project kicked off by digital agency Amaze in 2010 to monitor a select group of 20 young teens’ attitudes towards the digital landscape and emerging technologies.

Three years in, the study has revealed that the same group regards digital as an “intrinsic” to the shopping experience, preferring online shopping to in-store, while 'showrooming' is expected to become the main purpose of high street stores in future.

Almost all the youngsters and teenagers questioned have bought items online, with three quarters of them stating a preference for online shopping, perceiving there to be more choice online than on the high street.

The group was questioned on their attitudes towards the increasing number of store closures, which has recently seen the closure of HMV, and high street brand Nicole Farhi. The study revealed the group had a “rational” and “unsympathetic” view towards the recent store closures, with participants showing they have little loyalty towards traditional retailers.

They felt that stores have closed “because of tastes and preferences of consumers” and that stores have “had to close down due to massive changes in how people use technology.” One participant sums up the group view: “Even though I rarely actually bought anything from there [HMV] I enjoyed browsing.”

The youngsters had a bleak view of the future of the high street, with the majority of them predicting it will be “quieter” with fewer stores.

The overall view was that “there will be very minimal stores as most shopping will be done online due to people being lazy and thinking it’s easier to do it at home. There will be lots of fashion stores around and expensive designers”.

Some participants predicted that the recession would continue to see high street stores culled, while budgeting shops like Poundland would thrive.

One of the group said: “I think it will be full of shops like Poundland because the economy gets worse and people won’t be able to afford high quality things.”

Meanwhile social shopping is also a popular and important part of the purchasing process for this age group, with friends and family playing an influential role.

Two thirds of the group have shared a photo of items they were considering buying with friends and almost the entire group has done this while shopping online. The same number have shared a photo whilst shopping in-store, and also read online product details and look at reviews.

The groups make considered purchases despite only spending small sums of money, with clothes and music shown to be the most popular online purchases and electronics, birthday cards and food also topping the bill.

The majority use a PC or laptop to buy online, with a third making purchases via tablets.

Mobile, however, is still to emerge as a shopping channel for this age group with only one participant having made a purchase from their phone.

The majority of the group spend up to £30 a month online but are likely to get permission from parents before purchasing, with three-quarters doing so all the time or depending on what they are buying.

Amaze CEO Natalie Gross said: “The shopping habits of the Amaze Generation has undergone a revolution, with shopping online clearly gaining in popularity. Whilst the use of mobile for shopping has yet to take hold with this generation, it will be extremely interesting to see how this develops given the overall increasing popularity of the device. This savvy, technologically connected age group are clear about what they want – ease of use, convenience and choice.

“The importance of social shopping and the influence of peers online is also a huge factor that retailers and brands need to take into account to connect with this group of digital natives. It is interesting to see how the group uses technology as an easy way to share and decide what to buy, even when purchasing in-store. The process of shopping is changing forever and the trends we can observe from the group give us a unique insight into the future of online retail.”

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