New survey shows brick-and-mortar retailers are not yesterday’s news

We came across some fascinating consumer research recently that should give brick-and-mortar furniture retailers some hope. In fact, it should be very uplifting.


The research, conducted by the industry newsletter Home News Now and sister newsletters Casual News Now and Décor News now, found that more than one-quarter of the respondents plan to begin their next furniture shopping experience at a furniture store – even before doing any online research.


Granted, some 31 percent said their first move would be general online research through a search engine such as Google and another 23 percent said they would begin at a furniture retailer’s website. But the fact that 26 percent would begin by visiting a furniture store -- without previously going online -- was kind of heart-warming to this Baby Boomer.


The information was gleaned from interviews with nearly 2,000 consumers across all age groups who plan to buy furniture in the second half of this year.


As you might expect, a higher percentage of Baby Boomers (42 percent) said they would begin their shopping experience at a brick-and-mortar store, but it’s worth noting that 27 percent of Gen Xers and 22 percent of older Millennials (ages 34-41) gave the same answer. Only younger Millennials (ages 26-33) and Gen Z (ages 18-25) were under 20 percent.


And here’s another interesting tidbit. Survey participants were asked “If your local furniture store had an online store, would you be more likely to purchase in-store or online, if prices were equal.” Guess what? Two-thirds of respondents said in-store.


So while a robust online presence is important, we think the message is clear that the brick-and-mortar side of the business needs to be equally robust. (We’re trying to avoid using modern cliches such as “omnichannel” at this point, but you get the idea.)


You can find a good summary of the research by clicking here.


The newsletters plan to release comprehensive national survey results on Sept. 12. It will later be broken down across five geographic regions.