HIGH POINT — The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated the shift to e-commerce and made consumers’ homes the increasing focal point for an increased range of entertainment and business activities, according to research conducted by Furniture Today Strategic Insights.
The research, presented exclusively to attendees at the recent Leadership Conference, revealed that 58.3% of Millennials, 49.2% of Gen X consumers and 36.8% of Baby Boomers are likely to make their next furniture purchase on the Internet.
In some key product categories, that propensity is even higher with 66.9% of respondents saying their next desk purchase will be online, as well as 57.6% of dining table shoppers and 52.8% of mattress shoppers.
Even in higher touch-and-feel categories — such as recliners, sofas and loveseats — the shift to e-commerce is profound with 43.8% of those intending to purchase a recliner saying they are likely to purchase online and 47.3% sofa/loveseat purchasers similarly inclined.
And not surprisingly, the reason is safety. More than half (55.4%) of respondents cited safety as the No. 1 reason they choose to shop online today, a finding that dramatically outpaces the traditional motivators for shopping online: convenience (19.5%) and price (12.8%).
This does not mean that stores are being left out of the equation. In fact, when rating where they expect to find key attributes of a good shopping experience — such as inspiration (50.3%), knowledge and information (53%), best shopping experience (58.7%) and best quality(69.7%) — stores top the Internet in each and outpace the online shopping in five out of eight attributes overall.
The only three areas in fact where the Internet outpaces stores are in lowest price (70.7%), most convenient delivery (61.7%) and fastest delivery speed (43.4%), suggesting that brick-and-mortar retailers retain a powerful tool box to with which to drive store traffic.
When it comes to focus on the home, the survey revealed that more than 40% of consumers are spending significantly more time at home for a wide range of activities including working at home (47.4%), doing school work (41.4%), eating as a family (47%), spending time in their outdoor living spaces (45.4%) and gathering in the living room/family room for activities (44.2%).
These figures help explain the dramatic increase in home furnishings expenditures the industry has seen in the second half of this year. The survey also identified the top four rooms consumers are planning to spend on in the coming six months, in order of preference: living room, bedroom, home office and outdoor.
The emergence of home office has been one of the most substantial shifts during the pandemic, with the category going from little consumer attention in recent years to being a likely purchase area for 30.6% of consumers over the next six months.
The survey, sponsored by Genesis Credit, also showed some significant differences between consumers with “excellent,” “fair” and “poor” credit scores, with the latter group being the least likely of the three to shop on the Internet. This suggests a need for retailers looking to strengthen their e-commerce business to similarly strengthen their online credit offerings.
The survey also showed that a much higher percentage poor credit score consumers have seen their disposable income decrease compared to the other two credit cohorts.
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