Showrooming Surge: One quarter of shoppers seek out expert advice and cheaper prices

A new customer survey confirms electrical retailers’ worst suspicions: one in four Australians will get advice on electronics from floor staff only to return home to buy the product online at a cheaper price.

The Canstar Blue survey on Australia’s favourite electronics retailers found that Gen Y are the worst offenders when it comes to ‘showrooming’ and are three times more likely than Baby Boomers to seek out advice in-store and later buy a product online.

Of those who admitted to the practice, only one in three said they feel guilty for doing so, a sign that these behaviours are unlikely to change any time soon.

The most recent NAB Online Sales Index shows that Australia’s online retail spending continues to increase more quickly than traditional bricks and mortar retail. However this growth is at a more subdued pace than in previous years. For example, in 2011, 2012 and 2013 the average annual growth rate for online sales were all double-digits: 31.7  per cent, 22.2 per cent and 16.2 per cent respectively.

In the 12 months to July 2014, Australians spent an estimated $15.59 billion on online retail — a level that is equivalent to around 6.6 per cent of the traditional bricks and mortar retail sector (which totalled $235 billion in the year to June 2014, according to the ABS).

The Canstar Blue survey had some more positive news for retailers; a quarter of Australians will allow themselves to splurge on purchasing new electronic devices. It’s possible these purchases are motivated by “electronics envy,” with a quarter of respondents admitting they coveted electronics owned by friends and family.

When it comes to items purchased, one in five claimed to have bought “must-have” electronic gadgets and then never used them and, more than a quarter said they have electronic gadgets in their home that they regret buying because they are unnecessary.

Gen Y and Gen X are more likely than Baby Boomers to have purchased a product that now just gathers dust.

When asked if they spent more time reading books or catalogues from electronics retailers, 30 per cent of respondents said they spent more time reading catalogues. Generally men and younger generations were more likely than their counterparts to devote more time to catalogues over books.

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