By Nicole Brewer


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  When you’re in the market for a particular product, where do you go to make the purchase?

“I do most of my shopping online,” said Brianna Evans, in town from Syracuse, New York.

Another passerby said, “more in store, but I’d say I’m the outlier, in terms of my age group.”

We’re talking about millennials, a new generation of consumers, changing the face of retail.

Experts say they’re buyers without brand loyalty, less interested in cruising their local department store.

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Young consumers we spoke to answered fairly consistently, anywhere from two to three, maybe four times a year.

Shopping habits that could contribute to the so-called “death of the department store,” where sales have fallen nearly $75 billion over the past two decades and despite record holiday spending, saw decline this past year.

So, what’s behind the decision to skip the traditional big box store?

“It’s less about the product, more about the uniqueness of the experience,” said Dr. Wayne Williams, a professor of Business at the Community College of Philadelphia. He says younger buyers prefer a boutique-like experience and are willing to seek out unique products and design.

“You don’t want to walk around with what everyone has on, you want to be unique, different,” explained Evans.

Dr. Williams says they often reject the department store approach, in favor of an atmosphere that’s more interactive and social, where they can try out products, maybe even sip a latte.

And if department stores can tap into that preference, he believes it could make the difference.

“If brick and mortar stores can figure out a way to capture that energy that we need in terms of how we socialize, they’ll be able to stick around.”