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Best Buy and Walmart are most popular stores for showrooming, survey says

Consumer Reports News: June 06, 2013 04:38 PM

For the two of you unfamiliar with the term, "showrooming" is the practice of going to a brick-and-mortar retailer to get an eyes-on experience with a product before ultimately buying it online. A new study confirms what many of us had already assumed—that the practice isn't relegated to holiday shopping, that price-matching is probably the only way to curb it, and that many showroomers just don't like dealing with retail employees.

Where people showroom
Considering that electronics purchases are frequently less expensive online than they are in-store, it's probably not a surprise that the nation's largest electronics retailer is also the most popular among showroomers.

According to a new survey from the folks at Harris Interactive, 23 percent of respondents who said they had showroomed listed Best Buy as the bricks-and-mortar store they most frequently showroomed at (not do be confused with "shroomed" at, as that's a completely different audio/visual experience). Walmart was number two on that list, with 21 percent of respondents saying Big W was the place they did the most showrooming. Target, the only other retailer in double-digit percentages, was third with 12 percent.

While some retailers have claimed showrooming happens mostly during the holidays, the Harris survey shows that showroomers are year-round bargain-hunters, as percentages remained virtually unchanged between Nov. 2012 and March 2013.

Looking for more information? Check our electronics stores buying guide and Ratings.

Where they ultimately buy
The biggest non-shock of the survey is the online retailer that gets the most business out of showrooming. That would be Amazon, which received 57 percent of all business from people who first went to a store to check out a possible purchase. (In our most recent survey on buying electronics, some 18 percent of the 10,000-plus readers we surveyed who bought electronics products online fessed up to showrooming— and more than half of that group eventually bought from, which accounted for almost two out of three online purchases in our survey.)

That number is even higher for shoppers who did their showrooming at Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. 66 percent of customers who had showroomed at Best Buy ended up buying on Amazon, compared with only 12 percent who ultimately purchased from Even more Walmart showroomers turned to Amazon, with 69 percent of these respondents doing their purchasing at the huge e-tailer, while only 8 percent used Walmart's website.

This post originally appeared on Consumerist; read the rest of the story there.

Chris Morran

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