April 6, 2012, 2:10 PM

Nearly half of consumers are buying more items online this year

Much of the gains are coming from relatively affluent consumers, Deloitte says.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Nearly half, or 47%, of consumers are buying more online this year, up from 38% last year and 33% in 2010, according to the new Deloitte Retail & Consumer Spending Survey. Deloitte based its findings on an online survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted between March 5 and March 7.

The survey suggests that relatively affluent consumers will account for significant e-commerce gains this year. 63% of respondents who said they earn at least $100,000 annually say they are buying more items online this year, compared with 44% of respondents earning less than $100,000. Those income groups have differing views of the economy’s health. Of respondents earning at least $100,000, a third of them, 33%, say the economy remains in recession, compared with 44% for lower-income consumers.

For all consumers, shopping the web is becoming an increasingly popular way to find low prices, according to the survey. 58% of all respondents said they often find lower prices online than in bricks-and-mortar stores, compared with 53% who said the same last year.

Online shoppers also are becoming more demanding, Deloitte says: 30% of respondents expect retailers to provide shopping information via mobile apps and alerts, and social media; 24% said the same last year. And 19% of shoppers expect to interact with retailers via mobile devices while inside stores, up from 16% last year.

In fact, 50% of consumers have used their smartphones while inside retail stores to assist in shopping, up from 43% last year, Deloitte says. But 37% of respondents say connectivity issues—for instance, no Internet service or slow connections—have prevented them from using their phones inside stores, the same percentage as last year.

At the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012, the theme will be Connecting with the 21st Century Consumer. Among the sessions that will highlight the latest in online shopping behavior is “Leveraging a commerce platform in the era of the anywhere, anytime, any device consumer,” by Brian Walker, vice president and principal analyst, e-business and channel strategy, Forrester Research Inc.

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