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News: Digital Tools Empower Consumers -

When shopping for a big ticket item do you find yourself doing research? Reading reviews and looking for discounts? If so you are not alone, according to Synchrony Financial’s Fifth Annual Major Purchase Consumer Study, finding that when people are planning on spending $500 or more on a big-ticket item whether its electronics, appliances or something else, most start doing their homework online and ending it there too – and taking less time to make a decision this year than last (63 vs. 68 days in 2015).

In the study Synchrony looked at shopping and spending trends and preferences when it came to making big purchases in thirteen categories. It found that consumers are spending the bulk of their time doing their shopping research online, with 85% reporting that they start their research via their computer or mobile device, up from 80% last year.

Let the investigating begin

Where are they looking? Over 68% start with a retailer web site, 60% went with search engines, and more than half went right to the source – the manufacturer’s website. Last but not least, 40% pulled up sites that help them compare products and access reviews.

Yet in-store visits are still on the agenda as people are looking to get a real feel for the items they are considering buying with 70% doing just that, while 28% came back again and fired up their mobile devices during their visit. When it came to in-store purchases, 82% of shoppers had key reasons for hitting the brick-and-mortar store including wanting to connect with a store associate, check out the product and bring it home that very day.

Online buys are up 18% from last year (13%). This trend was driven by product availability, as well as getting a better deal, more value, and finding it easier and more convenient to make the purchase online. The top online purchases are:

• Music (65%)

• Fitness equipment (46%)

• Electronics (37%)

Financing in style

Before actually heading to the actual or cyber store to make a purchase, just about a third also checked out financing options with 60% having already made up their minds about how they are going to pay for their purchase way before going to the store to buy it.

When it came to choosing where to buy an item, financing options factored into their decision with just about half of people surveyed saying they would forgo or go to another retailer if financing was not available. Just over three-quarters (78%) of Synchrony cardholders taking part in the study said that they always look for promotional financing and for 90% special promotional financing makes purchases seem more affordable.

The Synchrony Financial study was conducted by Rothstein Tauber, Inc. They interviewed 2,775 individuals who had actually spent $500 or more on a big-ticket item over the last six months, or they were going to be making a big ticket purchase. The study was conducted in June and July 2016.