The baby boomers are the generation of children born between 1946 and 1964. This 20-year period right after World War II saw an explosion of babies in a generation that has come to define the modern world. The boomers came of age in a time of post-war growth, which also saw a rise of unprecedented affluence and prosperity.
It was also, however, a pre-internet era. This means that the baby boomer generation grew up savoring the thrill of the consumer hunt. Even now, as the internet has utterly transformed the commerce landscape, many boomers still do most of their shopping in physical stores.
According to a study put out by Forbes, about two-thirds of baby boomer consumers are more likely to buy a product they can view from all angles. What’s more, boomers as a whole are loyal customers and make great return shoppers. These points, combined with the historic buying and saving power of this generation, means it that many boomers shop entirely in person. As such, let’s explore the ten things boomers are shopping for in physical stores. (Discover popular toys when baby boomers were kids.)
To compile a list of the things boomers are shopping for in physical stores, 24/7 Tempo consulted different consumer survey statistics from Oberlo and Hubspot. From there, we consulted additional data and perspectives from business websites like Forbes.com to get an accurate reading on how the baby boomer generation undertakes its shopping.
The biggest expenditure that boomers still make in person is undoubtedly groceries. Any kind of food stuff, be it perishables or just canned food, the boomers are hoofing it en masse to the store to purchase. As per various studies, this generation buy something like eighty-eight percent of its groceries in person.
According to one survey by financial tech company Klarna, nine out of ten boomers between the ages of fifty-seven and seventy-five still shop for all of their groceries at a physical location. Online shopping and grocery delivery services be damned, because this generation remains loyal to its physical grocery stores. Their reliance on self-checkout, however, remains to be seen. (Discover the top toys when Gen-Xers were kids.)
Another large expenditure for boomers that is relegated to an in-person experience is shopping for pharmaceuticals. Though there are many online services for filling prescriptions, as well as direct mail-order pharmaceuticals companies, boomers are still happily waiting in long lines at the pharmacy for their medicine.
Or, at the very least, a good portion of them are still making the physical trek. According to various surveys, nearly two thirds (or sixty-two percent) of baby boomers still shop for all their pharmaceuticals in-person. That means, if you’re stuck in a long line waiting for your allergy medication, its probably this generation filling out the line in front of you. (These are words and phrases that only boomers understand.)
3. Beauty Products
The price of beauty is often steep, if not unforgiving, but that doesn’t stop a good portion of baby boomers from making the pilgrimage. The third most physically-bought item for baby boomers are beauty products. Be it concealer, serums, or other various elixirs, many boomers still want to feel these products in their hand before purchase.
According to a survey by Klarna, up to thirty-nine percent of baby boomer still buy all their beauty products in stores. Though more than half have taken to making these purchases online, there is still a sizable holdout of boomers that prefer a store like Sephora to an online marketplace like Amazon.
4. Home & Garden
If HGTV is any indication, then it comes as no surprise that home & garden supplies are still being bought at physical stores in large numbers by boomers. Be it a shovel, fertilizer, or fashionable garden gloves, a good portion of boomers prefer to wander the aisles of local garden stores to find products.
According to surveys, the percentage of baby boomers still buying home and garden supplies in person is around thirty-eight percent. Much like beauty supplies, it seems a good portion of this generation prefers to test out wares with their hands before committing to a purchase.
Though much of clothing shopping is now relegated to online marketplaces, a sizable holdout of baby boomers prefer to buy their clothing and shoes in physical stores. Much like groceries or home and garden supplies, this preference makes sense for clothing and shoes, which often needs to be tried on before buying.
In fact, according to the survey by Klarna, 35% of boomers between the ages of 57 and 75 still buy their clothing and shoes at physical stores. So, if you’re wondering who’s hogging all the dressing rooms at your local department store, it very well might be a tenacious boomer.
6. Children’s Products
Next up for boomer shopping habits is children’s products. Though most boomers are past the age of having new children, a small percentage of them still buy children’s products in physical stores. Be it cribs, diapers, or various children’s sundries, at least a few boomers prefer to check out these goods in person.
According to the survey by Klarna, thirteen percent of baby boomers still buy all their children’s products in-person. This is the first major drop in percentage, which means the majority of the boomers have assimilated to online children’s product shopping. Nevertheless, there are holdouts from this generation canvasing baby stores right now. (Learn about the top toys when millennials were kids.)
Much like home and garden supplies, it’s not shocking that a portion of baby boomer still prefer to shop for electronics at physical stores. Electronic gadgets and gizmos may look good in marketing pictures, but often look and feel entirely different in the palm of your hand.
According to the survey by Klarna, about twelve-percent of boomers still buy their electronics in person. That means, while almost nine out of ten boomers have adapted to scrolling through technical specification tables on Amazon or NewEgg, at least one of those ten boomers prefers to hold gadgets before buying them. (Learn what things to never buy at Target.)
8. Automobile Parts and Accessories
Probably more than any other generation in American history, the baby boomers love their cars. Be it buying them, working on them, or simply showing them off, no generation has shown as much car pride as this one. That’s why it’s surprising so few of them still buy automobile parts and accessories in person.
In fact, according to surveys, only twelve percent of boomers still buy things like brake pads or motor oil at physical stores. Considering how many boomer dads love spending weekends fixing up their old corvettes, it’s a bit of a shock that so many of them have made the switch to online. Even so, at least one in ten boomers will still venture down to the auto store and talk shop for hours.
Another thing that some boomers still shop for in physical stores is jewelry. Be it a pretty broach or a gaudy high school ring, a small but enduring segment of the baby boomer population prefers to buy its bejeweled enchantments from a person they can talk to and not a webpage they have to scroll through.
According to the survey by Klarna, around eight percent of baby boomer still buy their jewelry in person. This comes as no surprise, considering jewelry is a high-ticket item that is best authenticated with your own eyes. What is a surprise, however, is that ninety-two percent of boomers have transitioned to scoring their bling from places on the world wide web.
Though streaming services and on-demand have pretty much conquered the modern media landscape, a small but faithful percentage of this generation still prefers to buy their entertainment the old-fashioned way. Be it books or DVDs, this contingent eschews the convenience of the internet for entertainment, opting instead to make the journey in person.
In fact, a total of eight percent of boomers still buy their entertainment at physical stores. Considering almost no movie rental stores remain, much less bookstores, its a bit of a mystery how these boomers are scoring their entertainment on the streets. Even still, this generation is faithful to physical shopping until the very end. (Learn about gadgets from the 90s no one uses anymore.)