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How Young Europeans Will Shop Black Friday and the Rest of the Holiday Season

Holiday celebrations may look closer to normal this year, but what about holiday shopping? These three stats show how young Europeans plan to buy this year…


Last year was a holiday season like no other, with the pandemic upending many young Europeans’ traditions—and fundamentally altering the way they shopped. Holiday shopping moved online, and as many as 40% of European consumers reported that they planned on cutting their spending. While things are starting to return to normal this year, COVID is still making the 2021 holiday season one of uncertainty. In YPulse’s recent WE holiday shopping plans behavioral report, almost half of 13-39-year-olds say celebrating the holidays will be hard this year because of COVID, and more than half are worried COVID-related shipping delays will make it hard to shop for the presents they want to give—and they might not be wrong. The global shipping crisis has already hit the U.K., and retailers are already warning consumers to start shopping early before their supply inevitably runs out.

But despite the potential issues, many forecasts say holiday spending in Western Europe could return to 2019 levels this year: eMarketer predicts that U.K. holiday sales will grow by 8.1% over last year, and nearly a quarter tell YPulse they plan on spending more this year compared to last. But what exactly will their shopping plans look like? These four stats tell the story:

Nearly two in five will do all of their shopping online.

Beyond just holiday gifts and sales, COVID reshaped young consumers’ shopping habits as brick and mortar retailers closed their doors and shopping moved online and to mobile. YPulse’s WE shopping and retail report found that more than half of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe now prefer to shop online, and the vast majority are doing so regularly. And despite the shipping delays, a lot of this year’s holiday shopping will also take place online—38% of Gen Z and Millennials say they won’t even step foot in a physical store this year. For many, this is COVID-related—more than a third say they’re not comfortable shopping in-stores just yet—but it’s also about convenience: the top place they say they plan on shopping for holiday gifts is (you guessed it) Amazon. However, the largest portion of young shoppers plan on shopping equally online and in-store, giving brick and mortar retailers some relief—especially if they plan on offering any holiday sales…

More than three-quarters say they’ll shop the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have originated in the U.S., but with the rise of ecommerce, they’ve both become global holidays that are getting bigger every year. In fact, online sales over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend grew by 26.5% in the U.K. in 2020, according to Statista, and across Europe, ecommerce volume increased 86%. Of course, offline Black Friday sales fell by 33.7% in 2020, but with 77% of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe telling us they’ll participate this year, they’re expected to bounce back a bit this year with 7.3% growth while online sales are expected to grow by 20.3%. Part of last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday success was that many retailers started their sales early, encouraging consumers to start their holiday shopping early to avoid delays. Indeed, 59% of consumers in Europe planned their holiday shopping before November, according to Integral Ad Science, which is a trend we’re seeing this year, too. In fact, 73% of young consumers agree, “I would appreciate if brands released holiday deals earlier than Black Friday this year.”

The majority want to shop their values. 

Young consumers are increasingly focused on social issues—and they expect brands to be on board, too. In fact, the majority of young people in the U.S. believe all brands should do some sort of social good / charitable work, and a quarter of young Europeans say they’re more likely to purchase from a brand that makes their stance on social causes known on social media—even if they don’t agree with the brand’s position. This commitment to good is showing up in their holiday shopping, too: 57% of young Europeans tell YPulse they want to buy gifts that have a component of social good this year—and sustainability is top of mind. In a survey from digital marketing agency Tug, 78% of U.K. shoppers say brands’ sustainability efforts will impact what they purchase during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, and 63% say the same will apply over the whole Christmas shopping period. Tug’s research also found that 28% of Gen Z’s are turning to TikTok to find sustainable brands, and 26% of Millennials are doing their eco-research on Instagram, highlighting how important it is for brands to communicate their values to shoppers—especially this holiday season.


YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full Western Europe Holiday Shopping Plans behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.