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A New Generation of Shoppers Is Taking Over the Internet — Dollars and Sense

Bennett Raglin, Getty Images

A new survey finds the number of people who leave the house for a day of shopping are dwindling, replaced instead by a new breed of “net-savvy” shoppers.

The CNBC All-America Economic Survey, which defines “net-savvy” as those who said they planned to do either most or all their holiday shopping online, said such buyers constitute about 39 percent of the population. And among them, a full 70 percent said the internet is their preferred way to shop — both during the holidays and year-round.

Brick-and-mortar shoppers who tend to eschew the internet for purchasing, deemed “traditionalists,” make up 44 percent of shoppers. And the differences between the two groups is sometimes stark.

Demographically, net-savvy consumers tend to be wealthier, male and younger. About half of shoppers between 18 and 49 years old fall into the group, versus just 16 percent of those aged 65 or older. They also buy more — on average, net-savvy shoppers reported plans to spend $859 on gifts this past holiday season, substantially more than the $640 traditionalists planned to dish out.

While big-box stores like Walmart and Best Buy were the top choices for holiday shoppers, their popularity dropped six percent from the previous year. Online shopping is now the second most popular way to shop, replacing department stores like Macy’s and Sears.

Even when net-savvy shoppers do walk into physical stores, almost half use mobile devices to look for better prices, compared with a quarter of the general public and just 10 percent of traditionalists.

“This group of Net shoppers really are showing us the wave of the future,” said Jay Campbell, a vice president of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the CNBC survey along with Bill McInturff. “Brick-and-mortar stores will have to step up their game to get people in the door.”

[MSN Money]

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