sealPurdue News

December 1998

Internet shopping no threat yet to stores and catalogs

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A Purdue University retail expert says holiday shopping on the Internet may triple this year, but stores won't be any less crowded.

Richard Feinberg, professor of consumer sciences and retailing, says that even if Internet retailing reaches $4 billion nationally in 1998, it still is a drop in the bucket next to the year's $60 billion in catalog sales and the $2.3 trillion in merchandise sold in stores.

"Consumers will not desert the thrills and spills of in-store retailing in great numbers despite the sometimes frantic shopping environment," Feinberg says. "No amount of hassle, no number of rude sales associates, will change the habit American consumers have of finding great bargains and values inside stores. Consumers like to touch, feel and smell the products they purchase."

He predicts that the Internet retailers that will do the best this holiday season are those with a strong brand name image and/or presence, such as and CDnow. He says catalog retailers with strong brand names, such as Lands' End, also will find Internet shoppers seeking them out.

Feinberg says many consumers like the convenience of Internet shopping, but are wary of purchasing products over the Internet. He says retailers are taking measures to combat some of those fears, such as pointing out their security measures to on-line customers.

Anxious shoppers also find the high-speed information highway too slow. "They still enjoy shopping for the perfect gift and carrying it home that moment. Consumers don't like to wait for the product," he says.

CONTACT: Feinberg, (765) 494-8303; e-mail,

Compiled by Kate Walker, (765) 494-2073; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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