In the 21st century, online shopping has made its way into the spotlight. With virtually every store setting up an online outpost, consumers have more choices than ever for how they want to shop.

For companies with a brick-and-mortar presence, shoppers often have the option to pick up the item in a store rather than pay to have it shipped to their house. With the majority of shoppers (69%) preferring delivery to in-store pickup, what’s the appeal of skipping delivery? CivicScience asked 2,900 U.S. adults about their preferences on the subject. 

Convenience is King

According to the data, the majority of shoppers (69%) would prefer to have their items shipped to them, even if given a store pick-up option. But shoppers won’t settle for just any shipping conditions. Free shipping is at least somewhat important to 90% of survey respondents.

In fact, when asked for the primary reason for picking up an online order in-store, 52% of U.S. adults who shop online said it was to avoid paying for shipping. 

Free shipping is also very important both ways – especially in the case of returns. Nearly a third of survey respondents said their biggest pain point when returning an online purchase was having to pay to ship the item back to the retailer.

Physical Stores Are Still Important

Fifty-one percent of U.S. adults have, at some point in their shopping careers, selected and liked the ‘pick-up-in-store’ option when it’s available from retailers with both digital and physical presences.

So far, the largest percentage of those who have gone into a store to pick up their items are adults aged 35 to 54. Those least interested are 55 and up. But what about younger adults, those who are typically considered the most interested in convenience and fast results? 

As it turns out, consensus is split. The youngest adults (aged 18-24), are either not interested in picking up in-store (30%) or have tried and enjoyed it (27%). What is important to note is that a strong 12% plan to give this in-store pickup option a try. This suggests that despite the appeal of online shopping, younger adults still see a very real purpose for brick-and-mortar stores – even if that purpose is simply allowing them to pick up an item purchased online.

Can Online and In-Person Shopping Get Along?  

While shopping online is a significant consumer behavior in retail today, 24% of U.S. adults said they shop half online and half in-store, while 50% said they still do all their shopping in-person. 

These figures have held relatively stable since the same time last year, when 26% of U.S. adults were doing the majority of their shopping online, and 51% were doing the majority of their shopping in person.

This adds a layer of complexity to the conversation. Yes, online shopping, especially with free shipping, is a highly valued and oft-used option, but it is by no means the only one. 

In fact, brick-and-mortar stores are still the location of choice for the youngest and oldest adults, with the majority of these groups (62% and 55% respectively) doing most of their shopping in a store. By contrast, those 25 to 34 years old lead the way in doing most of their shopping online.

And, for what it’s worth, income does play a slight role. Online shopping gradually increases as income levels rise – which, to recall earlier data – could be one reason why free shipping is such a highly desired option. 

Especially for those making less, picking up in a store becomes a much more attractive option, perhaps especially if it means saving the cost of shipping. 

Ultimately, brick-and-mortar stores are still alive and well – and will be for the foreseeable future. While most U.S. adults love the option of online shopping, shipping costs may ultimately be the sticking point that turn a convenience into a hassle.