Consumer Receipt Survey – 2019

Receipt Survey Graph showing responses by age group to question "What is your preferred receipt method - Digital or Paper Receipt?

Consumers were asked in a July, 2019 survey whether they would prefer a paper receipt or a digital receipt. Not surprisingly, the results differed significantly by age group, with those 45 and older overwhelmingly preferring paper to digital receipts and those 25-44 still wanted paper receipts. Oddly, those aged 25-44 wanted both digital and paper at nearly the same rates. A very small number of each age group wanted no receipts at all.

When asked whether they would like retailers to offer the option of a digital receipt at checkout, 89% said yes. As with the previous question, there was a very small number (11%) who wanted no digital receipt. There could be any number of reasons for not wanting the digital option, such as privacy preferences of those not wanting to give retailers an email address or not wanting to provide mobile phone number for SMS receipts.

“U.S. consumers want retailers to provide a digital receipt option, and younger generations are driving that demand,” 

Beth Porter, Green America’s Climate Campaigns director
Receipt Survey Graph showing response to question, "What percentage of paper receipts do you end up throwing away or losing?"

More than 50% of survey respondents said they inevitably lose (or throw out) at least half or more of paper receipts they are given by retailers. Only about a quarter of those given paper receipts seem to hold on to most of them and just 12% keep every single paper receipt. The keepers are likely to be keeping their paper receipts for proof-of-purchase for warranty, for merchandise returns or for tax purposes. It would be useful to understand those details and whether digital receipts are as likely to be kept for the same purposes.

“Given the high cost of receipt paper for businesses and the shift of customer preferences, it makes sense for businesses to offer a digital option for customers who prefer it, rather than print receipts that are often thrown away,” 

Todd Larsen, Green America’s executive co-director
Receipt Survey Graph showing response to question, "Why do you prefer digital receipts over paper?"

Of those who said they preferred electronic receipts, the largest percentage (70%) viewed digital receipts as being “better for the environment.” A similar number (69%) said e-receipts “are much easier to store” – which means they are likely to have a method to keep and organize digital receipts in email folders or apps on their phones or tablets. A large group (63%) felt they would be certain not to lose digital versions. Thirty-four percent preferred e-receipts because, unlike paper versions, “They don’t fade over time.” Thirty-one percent said “I feel more socially responsible” by avoiding paper receipts and 13% were “trying to avoid toxins on paper receipts.”

Receipt Survey Graph showing response to question, "Why do you prefer paper receipts over digital?"

Of the survey respondents that preferred paper receipts above digital, 64% said “I feel more secure with a physical copy.” This group are likely to have established methods such as shoe-boxes or file folders for filing and organizing their paper receipts so they can recover those needed. Some 34% were nervous, saying “I need a paper copy in case I’m stopped by store security.” Twenty-four percent were privacy conscious, saying “I don’t like to give away my email address.” Twenty-two percent said, “I’m unsure of the returns process with the digital receipts.”

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