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E-commerce and in-store experiences are redefining Indian shopping: CBRE study

Key findings of Live Work Shop Survey:

44% respondents display stronger intention to move to a new home in the next 2 years. This is significantly higher when compared to global and APAC respondents69% respondents stated that they would prefer to work at least three days from office> 90% respondents have indicated strong preference for offline + online shopping formats
52% respondents willing to move for better quality properties and surroundings> 60% respondents say salary is the most important job selection factor70% respondents have stated that they have chosen to buy environment- friendly products in the past
72% respondents planning to move in the next two years would prefer to buy a house than rent~ 75% respondents prefer a one-way commute time of not more than 30 mins> 65% of respondents across all generations show a strong preference for shopping in brick-and-mortar stores for big ticket purchases such as luxury products and jewellery, irrespective of their location

February 23, 2023 – CBRE South Asia Pvt. Ltd., on Thursday announced the findings of its report, ‘Voices from India: How will people live, work and shop in the future?’, which is based on a first-of-its-kind survey wherein more than 20,000 people were polled globally. According to the SHOP section of the India report, while COVID-19 accelerated the reach of e-commerce among consumers, many shoppers went back to physical retail once cities started reopening and have since then adopted ‘hybrid commerce’ – offline + online. 


Most consumers in India prefer to buy items both via e-commerce and in offline retail stores. According to the survey, 60-65% of city centre residents prefer to shop online for gifts, cosmetics, clothing and footwear along with essential items (grocery & toiletries). However, more than 55% of small-town residents preferred online shopping for gifts, clothing & footwear and electronics; only 31% preferred shopping online for essential items (grocery & toiletries).

Millennials have shown a flair for online shopping across clothing & footwear, electronics, cosmetics, gifts and essential items (grocery & toiletries). In fact, more than 70% of late millennials preferred to buy their clothing & footwear, and cosmetics online.


In line with APAC and global trends, more than 65% of consumers across all generations have shown a strong preference for shopping in brick-and-mortar stores for big-ticket purchases such as luxury products and jewellery, irrespective of their location (city centre / suburbs / small town, etc.). Consumers want to see such products in-store and may require sales staff assistance for making a purchase. Brick-and-mortar stores continue to remain a prime retail channel for DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and essential items (grocery & toiletries) at the APAC and global level. 

Preference for in-store shopping among Indian consumers of all generations corresponds with their desire to try on an item before buying. This is consistent with the APAC and global sentiments. Examining the products remains the top reason driving people to brick-and-mortar stores across most categories; with the exception of essential items where immediate availability of products takes priority. Ready availability of products across homeware / home decorations and furnishings, etc., DIY (Do-It-Yourself), luxury / jewellery and cosmetics segments has also been rated as the second most important reason by Indian shoppers.

Consumers believe that they are also able to find better product assortment in brick-and-mortar stores, especially when customization / personalization takes precedence. The experiential element also becomes a differentiating factor during in-store shopping.

Despite all the aforementioned factors, online shopping remains a popular way to shop among Indian shoppers, especially millennials, the survey highlighted. ‘A wider choice of products’ was also stated as the top reason to shop online by survey respondents. The presence of larger inventory has led to more competition among online brands, causing them to introduce promotional offers and discounts to differentiate themselves and encourage sales. Wider breadth of offers provided by e-commerce channels was stated as the primary reason for online shopping in categories such as electronics, luxury / jewellery and essential items.

More than 70% Indian shoppers agreed that they have shopped more online since the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so going forward. On the other hand, consumption via offline channels will be driven directly by product and in-store experience.

Sustainable consumerism on the rise


According to the survey, more than 70% of survey respondents have stated that they have chosen to buy environment-friendly products despite the additional cost associated with it and the sentiment is stronger among the older generation – early millennials, Gen X and baby boomers. This demographic includes mostly high-income earners residing in city centres and are homeowners with a certain sense of security and are in a position to make sustainable choices while buying any product.

About 65-70% of respondents, especially late millennials have stated that have purchased more locally sourced products and smaller / independent brands. Shoppers have also indicated their attempt to reduce consumption not only in a bid to be sustainable but also frugal. High price points of certain products and a desire to have varied options has led many of the young respondents to rent instead of buy.

Ram Chandnani, Managing Director, Advisory & Transactions Services, CBRE India, said, “As consumer behaviour is fluid in nature, placemaking continues to remain relevant and it is imperative for developers to adopt a layered, holistic approach to create a compelling, competitive destination that emotionally resonates with consumers. It is not just about brands or the right tenant-mix, but about creating an authentic environment that keeps diversification, convenience and experience in mind.”

“Consumers increasingly expect to be able to shop anywhere and anytime across multiple channels. CBRE recommends that apart from investing in omnichannel capabilities, retailers should also offer real-time inventory visibility, facilitate seamless returns / pickups and transform in-store supply chains to be more adaptive and resilient to customer needs.”


While hybrid working (hybrid working excludes both ‘fully office’ and ‘fully remote’ categories) has been more widely adopted across India, 69% of the respondents preferred to work at least three days from the office. However, a slight variation in trends amongst genders is visible as female employees tend to place a greater emphasis on flexibility when evaluating potential job opportunities, as they may have higher family commitments and strive for a better work-life balance by preferring to work remotely. Preference for working in an office under the hybrid working model is likely to increase from the current 67% to 78% in the future in India – in line with global and APAC trends. 


More than 60% of both sets of future employees (office and hybrid) across generations indicated that compensation remained the overriding factor in job selection. As we increasingly move to a “phygital” world with limited physical interactions, trust in the company’s management has emerged as another important factor for both sets of future employees (office and hybrid). 

Further, 50% of both sets of workers place importance on workplace services and amenities. Hybrid workers also place a higher importance on when and where they can work while considering a new job.

According to the survey, the top three reasons for employees to visit office included more effectiveness in working, preference for in-person interactions, and more connectedness while working in office. About 39% of respondents prefer hybrid/remote working patterns in India as their physical presence was not required for their roles. This was also due to their personal responsibilities and their reluctance to commute. About 39% of the respondents cited health concerns as a reason not to visit office, mainly delaying RTO – resulting in employers introducing health & wellbeing programs.

Anshuman Magazine, Chairman & CEO – India, South-East Asia, Middle East & Africa, CBRE, said, The survey indicates that majority of respondents prefer workplace quality and focus space for them to be regular at the office, while specially after the pandemic, health and wellness has become the most important factor for them to consider for frequent office visits. In addition, technology, space design, location, and services & amenities have become desirable factors for the employees at work”.


The survey revealed that Indians display more flexibility towards moving or relocating than their global counterparts. The survey found that respondents display a stronger intention to move to a new home in the next two years (44% vs 31% in the previous two years). This is significantly higher when compared to both global and APAC respondents.


It is also interesting to note that as most cities in India swell to the beam, the definition of a true city centre continues to evolve. Most leading cities, especially Delhi- NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune are witnessing the emergence of suburbs that in many ways redefine the erstwhile “city centre”.

Gen Z led the preference towards moving to a new home in the next two years, compared to only 29% of baby boomers. This indicates that the younger generation will primarily drive upcoming housing demand. Except for Gen X, all other generations displayed a higher preference for locations near the city centres. Gen X displayed a slightly stronger preference for remote locations and a greater desire to move to another country as more experienced professionals seek overseas opportunities. In fact, across age groups, the preference to move to another country was the highest in India (when compared to global or APAC respondents).

The survey also highlighted that of those planning to move, more than 70% wanted to buy a house, instead of renting. While India has always been an economy where home buying is preferred over renting, the uncertainty around the pandemic has further accelerated the need for homeownership and security.

With the pandemic having raised the importance of health and safety, the demand for professional property management services, particularly in apartment buildings has been on the rise. There is also an increasing need for dedicated office space at home as hybrid working becomes more widespread.


Note: The survey is designed to understand how people want to live, work and shop in the future. Insights from the survey may be used to inform real estate occupiers, investors and developers to ensure real estate is positioned to meet users’ evolving needs.



Gen Z: Age 18 – 25 

Late Millennials: Age 26-33

Early Millennials: Age 34-41

Gen X: Age 42-57


Baby Boomers: Age 58+