Updated on Jan 18, 2024
Updates quarterly

Tracking Trends in the Retail Industry

Consumers consistently prefer shopping in stores over online
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Shares of each demographic who said they prefer to shop in stores or online

To help retail and e-commerce brand leaders identify which consumer shopping behaviors are taking hold and which are not, Morning Consult is tracking shifting consumer e-commerce and retail industry trends through a monthly survey of U.S. adults.

Find a more detailed methodology for this tracker below.

Key Takeaways

  • High-income consumers reported increased spending compared to this time last year, although that’s not the case for other demographic groups. Inflation has moderated, but prices remain elevated, and high earners’ perception that they’re spending more on groceries, apparel, home furnishings, beauty and personal care products has grown over the last three months. These shoppers are increasingly leveraging “buy now, pay later” loans to support that spending.


  • The use of in-store and curbside pickup services for online orders has gained momentum in recent months, particularly among high-income shoppers purchasing apparel, beauty or personal care products, home decor and personal electronics. This convenient option is especially compelling for holiday shoppers who are taking advantage of these options at much higher rates than they did last year. 


  • Online-only brands have gained consumer trust amid holiday shopping activity. Since the end of September, the share of U.S. adults who say they trust online-only retailers moved from 72% to 76%. While physical stores still earn much higher trust scores (93% of shoppers trust brick-and-mortar retailers), consumers appear to be having good experiences with emerging online-only brands like Temu as they seek out holiday deals. 

Reasons Consumers Prefer Online and In-Store Shopping

Share of respondents who said they choose to shop in stores or online for the following reasons:
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Consumer Preference for Online Shopping by Category

Share of adults who said they prefer to make purchases online in the following categories:
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Utilization of Fulfillment Channels by Category

Share of adults who used the following fulfillment options when ordering in each category:
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Return Method Used by Purchase Channel

Share of respondents who returned items in the following ways in the last month:
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Source of This Data


The Morning Consult Retail Monthly Trend Tracker relies on data collected through Morning Consult’s proprietary survey research capabilities. The interviews are conducted online, and the data are weighted to approximate a representative sample of U.S. adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race and region. Results from the full survey have a monthly sample size of 2,200 to 4,400 U.S. adults and an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

On April 1, 2022, Morning Consult updated its general population weighting targets for the United States to be more representative of the most recent population data. Historical data has not changed. 

About Morning Consult

Morning Consult is a global decision intelligence company changing how modern leaders make smarter, faster, better decisions. The company pairs its proprietary high-frequency data with applied artificial intelligence to better inform decisions on what people think and how they will act. Learn more at morningconsult.com.

Claire Tassin
Lead Retail & E-Commerce Analyst

Claire Tassin previously worked at Morning Consult as the lead retail & e-commerce analyst.