Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Tuesday 3 October 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
# getting consumed
Online or bricks and mortar? This is how most Irish shoppers spend their money
Are we a nation of click-happy customers or do we prefer the personal touch? Here are the numbers…

IRISH CUSTOMERS STILL prefer to hand over their money to traditional retailers, but some industries are being hit hard when it comes to shoppers’ cash migrating to the web.

This month, as part of’s ongoing focus on the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, we turn our attention to the business of retail – and how customers engage with physical stores and their online counterparts.

To get some insights into Irish consumers’ shopping habits, we started by crunching the numbers using Google’s Consumer Barometer, which was recently updated with 2014 data.

Its survey of about 1,000 locals found nearly half of all computer users relied on their machines to search for product information at least once a week.

But a much smaller share, only 14%, actually used them to shop with, figures which further fell among tablet and smartphone users.

Meanwhile, some 61% of respondents in Google’s survey of over 3,000 domestic shoppers said they did some online research before making a recent purchase – compared to 60% who at least partially relied on offline sources.

Among those real-world information sources, in-store research was easily the most popular fact-finding method, while brand websites were the number-one place consumers turned to for their online research.

But when the research is done, where does the money go?

Despite nearly two thirds of respondents saying they had researched products online, only one third ended up buying over the web – with men more likely than women to make their final purchase via the internet. Here are the full numbers:

image Google Consumer Barometer, Google Consumer Barometer,

Unsurprisingly, the results were heavily skewed for some types of products like flights, although the amount of clothes and shoe purchases done online was also above average at 40%.

Groceries, makeup and home appliances were among the retail product categories that were the least likely to be bought online.

A recent CBRE Ireland survey of 1,000 domestic consumers gave similar findings – that people were doing more browsing that ever before to check prices and compare options for non-food items, but the traditional store was still the preferred place to buy:

CBRE CBRE Ireland Consumer Survey 2014 CBRE Ireland Consumer Survey 2014

So how do we compare to everyone else? 

CBRE’s survey found Irish consumers’ shopping habits were largely on par with those of other European nations, where most customers also favoured real stores over online purchases.

But locals were among the most heavy smartphone users in the world for both browsing for and buying products – well above the European average for both categories.

Reflecting this trend, Irish consumers were also more likely than those elsewhere in the region to log into social media to check out special offers or events when they were shopping.

CBRE2 CBRE: The Shopping Experience in 2014 CBRE: The Shopping Experience in 2014

CBRE Ireland senior researcher Suzanne Barrett said the frequency of online shopping had definitely increased over the years.

But the main development had been in people getting their background information via the web before making a purchase in-store.

“The major trend that has emerged in Ireland is the multi-platform use – and the important lesson there for retailers is that they have to be online,” she said.

“It is an imperative for consumers that they do their research online: they look at products and they plan where they are going to go.”

She said there had also been a rise in “click-and-collect” shopping, where people bought online before picking up an item in person, although research showed those customers often grabbed more products once they were in a store.

So there you have it – Irish consumers like to research their purchases online via computers or smartphones, but the majority of those sales are still flowing to traditional retail stores.

Originally published 9.15am

Do you know of an SME or startup doing innovative things in retail for this month’s coverage? Let us know by sending a tip below.

READ: How do you get shoppers to return to your store? Inspire them >

READ: Are Ireland’s independent retailers a dying breed? >

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.