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Millennials Shaping U.S. Retail Trends

Tamara E. Holmes
Millennials Shaping U.S. Retail Trends

Millennials have been trendsetters since they’ve come of age. Now, they’re changing the face of retail as a new study shows how they’re outspending other generations and shifting the way consumers shop.

Data analytics company First Insight surveyed more than 1,000 consumers to gain insight into their shopping behaviors. When comparing generations, the study found millennials dropped the most money in stores, with 74% admitting to spending more than $50 per visit in-store. Generation X consumers were next, with 71% spending more than $50, followed by 65% of baby boomers.

Millennials were also most likely to shop impulsively. According to the survey, 87% of millennials said they sometimes or always make impulse buys in stores compared with 86% of Gen Xers and 78% of baby boomers. When it comes to shopping online, 78% of millennials add items to their cart that they didn’t expect to buy, compared with 74% of Gen Xers and 53% of baby boomers.

One area where millennials don’t take the lead is in online shopping. Fifty-nine percent of Gen Xers are most likely to spend more than $50 when shopping online compared with 54% of millennials and 49% of baby boomers.

Millennials pave the way for subscription services

Millennials are also changing the way we shop. Not only are they more making one-time purchases online, but they’re the generation most likely to pay to receive products on a regular basis in the form of a subscription. About one-fourth of American consumers pay for subscription box services, with 31% of millennials using subscription boxes compared with 21% of Gen Xers and 8% of baby boomers.

The prevalence of these services are only expected to rise, as 38% of millennials plan to subscribe to a subscription box service in the next six months, along with 28% of Gen Xers and 22% of baby boomers.

Finally, millennials were most likely to flex, or show off, brands, or wear a brand in order to show a personal association with it. The items people are most likely to flex in the U.S. are clothing (51%), shoes (42%) and accessories, such as bags, watches and jewelry (28%), the study found. Millennials were most likely to flex both sports brands and luxury brands than other generations.

While impulse shopping isn’t necessarily a bad thing, make sure you have room in your budget to handle unplanned purchases. Also, with the rise in popularity of subscription services, be vigilant that you’re actually using the products you get on a regular basis. You might find that it’s more cost-effective to buy items when you need them rather than on a monthly or recurring basis.