Posted Dec. 21, 2016 at 3:13 p.m.

PEW survey: eight in ten Americans shop online

Published: 2016-12-21 15:13:00
Updated: 2016-12-21 15:13:00


Americans have embraced online shopping. About eight in ten have made an online purchase, 51 percent bought something using a cell phone, and 15 percent made purchases from a social media site link, says a Pew Reseach Center survey.

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.

Nevertheless, a majority of Americans still say they prefer buying from a brick and mortar store.

Price, however, often determines a buy rather than where an item is purchased. According to the survey, 65 percent of Americans compare online and in store prices and chose the least expensive.

Nearly half of those surveyed, 45 percent, have used their cell phones to compare prices in store.

The survey also illustrates the extent to which Americans are turning toward the collective wisdom of online reviews and ratings when making purchasing decisions. Eight in ten, 82 percent, say they consult online ratings and reviews.

Half of those under 50 and 40 percent of all Americans say they always check online reviews when buying something new.

Still, they don't entirely trust them. Roughly half of those who read online reviews (51%) say that they generally paint an accurate picture of the products or businesses in question, but a similar share (48%) say it’s often hard to tell if online reviews are truthful and unbiased.

The survey also reveals our march toward a cashless economy. Pew states, "Today nearly one-quarter (24%) of Americans indicate that none of the purchases they make in a typical week involve cash. And an even larger share – 39% – indicates that they don’t really worry about having cash on hand, since there are so many other ways of paying for things these days."

Among the other findings of this national survey of 4,787 U.S. adults conducted from Nov. 24 to Dec. 21, 2015:

  • 12% of Americans have paid for in-store purchases by swiping or scanning their cellphones at the register.
  • Awareness of the alternative currency bitcoin is quite high, as 48% of Americans have heard of bitcoins. However, just 1% of the public has actually used, collected or traded bitcoins.
  • 39% of Americans have shared their experiences or feelings about a commercial transaction on social media platforms.

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