Purchasing with a click of a button makes online shopping quicker than ever — but for many consumers of a certain age, online retail doesn’t equate to a better experience. 

And as it struggles for relevance, ailing retail giant Sears is hoping it can provide a new kind of brick-and-mortar experience to these older shoppers.

“Going to the store may hold appeal for older boomers as an occasion for getting out of the house and socializing a bit.”
Mark Dolliver
Principal analyst, eMarketer

That doesn’t mean boomer consumers are unable to work a mouse. Americans of all ages are shopping online today. 

According to a survey done by Bizrate Insights in April 2019, 36% of consumers age 55 and up reported buying a product or service online using a mobile retail app within the previous month. And eMarketer.com estimates that 59% of boomers will make at least one purchase digitally during 2019.

While older shoppers take advantage of e-commerce, their online shopping habits pale in comparison to younger demographics, Among consumers between 18 and 34, 61% made a purchase using a mobile retail app in the past month, according to the Bizrate Insights survey.

So while boomers with smartphones are shopping online, it’s clear there is still a preference for physically shopping in-store.

Enter Sears Home & Life

That’s elevator music to Sears’ ears.

The once-mighty retail giant filed for bankruptcy in 2018, and after a restructuring has downshifted away from the mega-sized superstore to an in-store experience that’s smaller but still familiar to lifelong shoppers — especially boomers.

The new, cozier concept is being called Sears Home & Life, and has debuted in Kansas, Louisiana, and Alaska.  These stores are much smaller and carry fewer items, but aim to combine the personal experience many older shoppers desire, with a more current technological capability and visual design that can also appeal to younger consumers. 

“Boomers aren’t at a life stage where learning new things is a big priority. Just the reverse, really — it’s something my fellow boomers and I will often do our best to avoid,” principal analyst Mark Dolliver for eMarketer.com. “And especially for boomers who are retirees, the time-saving features of digital shopping are somewhat irrelevant.”

Dolliver continued, “Going to the store may hold appeal for older boomers as an occasion for getting out of the house and socializing a bit.”

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