While consumers were forced to make a huge shift to online shopping at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, many are now growing tired of the trend and are returning to their old shopping habits.

Online sales are dipping as consumers return to physical stores in lieu of the convenience of buying from their computers, and the reasons for their return are somewhat surprising.

Brian Nagel, who covers the retail sector at Oppenheimer & Co., told CNN, “As the pandemic has subsided, you're seeing consumers get back to their pre-pandemic activities. Consumers see benefits to shopping in stores.”

One of the big benefits that consumers are getting from shopping in stores that they can’t get behind a computer is the ability to socialize after months of being stuck at home during the pandemic. Consumers have the itch to get out of their homes, and it is showing.

“Shopping in stores is a social activity,” Nagel told CNN.

In-store sales grew at a rate of 13.4% for May 2022 versus the 2.2% increase in online retail sales compared to the same time last year, a report from Mastercard indicated on Tuesday.

Even online retailers, which flourished during the height of the pandemic, are now struggling. Amazon has seen its demand decrease. Retailer Stitch Fix will lay off 15% of its salaried positions as its e-commerce growth slows, CNN said.

Even more layoffs are expected as experts like Berna Barshay, an analyst at Empire Financial Research, told CNN, “A lot of these companies staffed up in anticipation of forecasted growth. Now they will fall short of those forecasts. The obvious answer to missed growth targets is to scale down, pare back and reduce costs.”

COVID pushed consumers to their computers to buy the items that they needed as stores were forced to temporarily close during the pandemic to help prevent the spread of the virus. Even still, online sales continue to make up a good portion of sales than they did prior to the pandemic as the trend accelerated due to COVID.

But now, consumers have shifted once again and are ready to return to malls and shopping centers as they look to buy products they have been coveting without the glare from their computer screens. The trend has reversed as consumers look to travel, prepare for parties and events outside their homes, and get ready to go back to work.

Shoppers carry bags of purchased merchandise at the King of Prussia Mall, United States' largest retail shopping space, in King of Prussia Shoppers carry bags of purchased merchandise at the King of Prussia Mall, United States' largest retail shopping space, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 8, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Mark Makela