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Online buying alters consumer habits, poll finds

Woman using a laptop
New research shows the days of people being afraid to share their credit card data with online retailers are long gone.

The habits of shoppers are changing profoundly as more of them go online to buy things, according to an NPR/Marist poll released this week.

More than two-thirds of U.S. shoppers — or 1 in 7 Americans — have purchased at least one item online, meaning the days of people being afraid to share their credit card data with internet retailers are long gone.

Shoppers said skipping lines at retail stores, convenience and product selection are among their key reasons for making online purchases.

“We can either [shop online] at 9 o’clock at night and have [our order] there in two days, or we could … get everybody in the car, go out shopping and hopefully we find what we want,” Melanie Hinchey, a Milwaukee mother of two, told NPR.

The poll surveyed 1,057 U.S. adults ages 18 and older from April 25-May 2.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they liked that they could shop online day or night, while 90 percent said they like free shipping, even if it meant waiting a few extra days for delivery.

Most respondents (54 percent) used desktop or laptop computers to shop online, while 45 percent used smartphones and tablets.

Nevertheless, 56 percent of respondents said they still preferred shopping in retail stores, compared to 37 percent who favored online shopping.

In addition to reshaping consumer culture, the growth in online shopping has also driven major increases in shipping. USPS delivered 5.7 billion packages during fiscal 2017 (Oct. 1, 2016-Sept. 30, 2017), about twice the amount delivered five years earlier.

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