Nine out of every 10 retail transactions in the UK “touch” a bricks-and-mortar shop, new research on consumer behaviour has revealed.

Of the £313bn spent annually by UK consumers, £278bn (89%) “touches” a bricks-and-mortar shop via physical sales, click-and-collect or in-store browsing before the purchase is made online.

The research, drawing on the experiences of 30,000 consumers, by Verdict Retail and British Land also showed that click-and-collect sales are set to double by 2021.

Women, younger shoppers and Londoners were also found to have engaged the most with physical stores when eventually making a purchase online.

Category differences

There were marked differences between how much consumers engaged with stores depending on which categories they purchased items from.

Nearly half (49%) of electrical purchases are made in-store, but two-thirds of purchases (65%) rely on a store. This means that electrical purchases are boosted the most by physical stores (32%), followed by toys (a 25% boost) and department stores (20%).

Contrastingly, the homewares sector (homewares, furniture and floorcoverings, DIY and gardening) and the health and beauty sector do not receive much of a boost because of limited online penetration – they already rely on bricks-and-mortar purchases.

Verdict retail content director Patrick O’Brien said: “Electricals is one of the most mature online markets, with customers using a variety of channels in their shopper journey.

“The prevalence of showrooming is resulting in a number of retailers repurposing their physical stores, utilising them to display products and promote online sales rather than just to fulfil immediate sales. We expect this trend to grow as stores continue to migrate to the showcase model.”