NPD: Consumers using stores as showrooms in home retail categories

Port Washington, N.Y. -- There is evidence in the home retail sector that consumers increasingly are first researching a product in physical store and then making their actual purchase online, according to The NPD Group.

The practice is known as “showrooming,” and NPD reports that 15%-20% of consumers in 2011 were “showrooming” categories like stand mixers, electric knives, sewing machines, and some floor cleaners. Other categories like power tools, hairsetters, and robotic vacuums are now beginning to show signs of the “showrooming” trend as well.

“We are a long way off from a world of online-only shopping. The majority of consumers buy their kitchen appliances, personal care, and home environment products in a brick-and-mortar store. That being said the prevalence of smart phones provides consumers with the ability to do price comparisons in real-time, while still in the store, increasing the challenge retailers are faced with to offer the best price,” said Perry James, president of home and office Supplies, The NPD Group.

According to NPD, the majority of home-related purchases were made in brick-and-mortar stores in 2011, with online sales accounting for a 13% dollar share of small appliances and a five percent dollar share of home improvement sales in 2011.

“The need to touch and feel a product before making the purchase is still very compelling for most customers, and that is what initially gets them in the door,” Jemes said. “Once they have the items in their hands, and have decided they want it, the need for immediate gratification can be too strong to go home and wait for an item to be shipped to their home, even if it is the less expensive option.”