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The Real Data On Millennials’ & Gen Z’s Holiday Shopping

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

Holiday sales exceeded expectations, so we checked in with young consumers to find out all about how, where, and how much they spent this season…

Retailers had high hopes for Millennial and Gen Z spending this holiday season, and the optimism paid off. Several studies declared that this would be the biggest shopping season yet for 13-35-year-olds, with The National Retail Federation, RetailDive, and more predicting that young consumers would spend more than any other generation. EMarketer also predicted that this boost would be particularly prominent for online shopping, forecasting that total retail sales were expected to grow just 3.1% while online sales were predicted to jump 16.6%. Our own research showed that retailers would have quite a haul this year: four in five Millennials told Ypulse that they planned to shop for the holidays this year. We calculated their spending power could be over $25 billion, based on their own estimates of what they planned to spend on gifts for others and themselves.

So how did it all turn out? Even better than expected, according to The NRF. While they predicted an increase of between 3.6% and 4% over 2016, holiday sales during November and December actually increased 5.5%. And the International Council of Shopping Centers found that overall spending rose by 18%. According to Ypulse’s Post-Holiday Shopping Topline, 83% of 13-35-year-olds shopped this holiday season, and they reported spending an average of over $750. This is a significant increase over last year, when they spent an average of just under $500. To get a better sense of when they spent that money and how, we asked 1000 13-35-year-olds to tell us the days they shopped, and where they went to do it:

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

Like last year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the biggest shopping days for young consumers this holiday season. And that is likely because—unsurprisingly—13-35-year-olds did most of their shopping online. In fact, Business Insider reported that stores were emptier than ever this Black Friday, but sales soared due to increased ecommerce. Gen Z and Millennials are also notorious discount hunters, so it makes sense that they would jump at the chance to get a brand-sponsored deal on these shopping “holidays.” However, according to our data, online shopping didn’t see quite the spike this year as some retail analysts predicted. While it’s true that the majority of their shopping was done online, it’s not significantly higher than the amount that was done last year. In fact, on the biggest shopping day—Cyber Monday—48% of 13-35-year-olds shopped exclusively online compared to 50% last year. But according to The Retail Federation, while 64 million consumers shopped both in-store and online over the Thanksgiving holiday, 58 million only shopped online and 51 million only shopped in stores.

Most of that online shopping was done on young consumer favorite Amazon, which made our list of stores & sites Millennials & Gen Z most want to holiday shop at and was expected to grab more than 50% of new holiday online sales in 2017. But according to Ypulse data, just 2% more 13-35-year-olds told us they did most of their holiday shopping with the online retailer this year compared to last year, the majority of which came from Millennial shoppers:

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

The disparity between Millennials & Gen Z when it comes to retailers most likely has to do with teens’ lack of access to credit cards—which we’ve seen makes them more likely to shop IRL over online. Though with Amazon’s recent rollout of a service to modernize teen spending, we could see teen spending on the popular platform catch up in the coming years.

Walmart and Target are tied for second among 13-35-year-olds with 43% saying they shopped at one of the stores. After that, “Other” was the most-shopped, with respondents listing everything from CVS to REI. Some of this “other” shopping could be linked to The Influencer Effect, which was responsible for a fair amount of holiday shopping this year, WWD reports. According to Venz Box, sales on, an app that monetizes the products in social posts, rose 220% on Thanksgiving Day compared to the average day, and Black Friday drove three times the clicks from influencer content to retail sites. Influencers noticed the spikes in their affiliate and ad content too, with Venz Box emphasizing that influencers “are the new salespeople.” Indie brands are on the rise, and influencers could help them hold their ground against Amazon in holiday seasons to come.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here