Simon Study Reveals In-Store Shopping Can Be Up to 60% More Favorable for the Environment than Online Shopping

The retail landscape is evolving. Shoppers have more choices to purchase a wider variety of products in different ways. While the retailers work hard to deliver convenience to shoppers, consumer shopping behaviors do have environmental and socioeconomic impacts. What does that look like? At Simon, we took the challenge of determining whether online or mall shopping was more sustainable by setting up a data-driven methodology to understand the sustainability impacts of both channels.

p_35_just_numbers35_1-sm To understand the environmental impacts we used a “cradle to grave” Lifecycle Analysis (LCA). A lifecycle analysis examines inputs/outputs of all material, energy, and the associated environmental impacts attributable to a product or service in its lifecycle .
p_35_just_numbers35_2-sm We looked at a typical basket of customer purchases. The typical shopping basket is comprised of a combination of four retail products’ journeys from its manufacturing to its end of life when shopped via mall or online.
p_35_just_numbers35_3-sm What is the metric that is most applicable to the environment? We used Green House Gas (GHG) emissions as the environmental measure because they are the cause of climate change. Our research and experience determined that the main contributors that affect the level of GHG emissions in either shopping experience include transportation fuels, building energy usage, and packaging differences.
So what’s the big picture outcome? Simply put, mall shopping to be up to 60% more environmentally sustainable than online shopping.
- If you consider all of the people that come to a mall each year and they were to purchase a combination of four products, it results in an average of 26.7 million products bought every year from an average mall. The results of the LCA analysis show that if you buy the same number of products in the shopping mall and online store in a year, online shopping has a 60% larger environmental impact than mall shopping.

Click Here to Download Study