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How Many Young Consumers Will Shop Black Friday & Cyber Monday This Year?

What do young consumers’ Black Friday and Cyber Monday plans look like this year? The answers in three charts…


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving—which of course means that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are here as well! Amid all the talk around COVID-related shipping delays and supply shortages, retailers and brands leaned into the “holiday creep,” and unveiled their Black Friday sales and deals earlier than ever this year, with some of them launching them  as soon as October.

Retail Dive reports that Black Friday sales “starting early and lasting longer means the event itself, on its traditional days, is waning somewhat.” At the same time, an ICSC survey predicts that shoppers will bring in a total of over $108 billion for the weekend. But how many of those spenders are young shoppers, and what are they planning for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal hunting?

YPulse’s recent holiday shopping report dives into how exactly young consumers will be holiday shopping this year, what their budgets are looking like, where they’re planning to buy, and their plans for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To get started, we asked 13-39-year-olds, “Do you plan to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year?” We’ve compared their responses to the last two years to see if their holiday weekend shopping is shifting, and found clear signs of rebounds to pre-COVID spending:

Last year, financial insecurity caused by COVID made young shoppers hesitant, and there was a clear dip in Black Friday participation. But while plans to shop Black Friday went down significantly in 2020, this year they’ve bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. We told you that the number of young people who feel COVID will be impacting their holiday plans has also dropped. While that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re entirely comfortable celebrating how they used to, the drop combined with the data on Black Friday signifies their shopping habits are heading back to normal. The number of young shoppers who say they will be shopping on“Neither” date went down compared to 2020, signifying that spending might be stronger this year.

However, the number who say they’re planning to shop on Cyber Monday went down compared to both 2020 and 2019. Last year, Cyber Monday actually broke records as consumers stayed out of stores and shifted their shopping online in a huge way. But our data shows that last year’s anomaly might have been hiding a different kind of Cyber Monday shift. As online shopping has surged in popularity, Black Friday participation has shifted from an in-store only (often chaotic) event, to a multi-channel event, with young shoppers just as likely to be shopping online as off. Because of the shift to ecommerce on Black Friday, a dedicated day for online shopping seems to be less relevant. At the same time,Many brands have been launching their Black Friday sales earlier and extending them to week-long and month-long sales, resulting in young people making their purchases earlier too. Shopping on specific days is less important, which most likely explains the year-on-year decline for Cyber Monday.

In fact, verbiage around the shopping holidays has shifted, with many calling the sales surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday “Cyber Week,” instead of focusing on the specific days that have traditionally been the focus. Adobe expects Cyber Week to drive $36 billion in online spending, which is 17% of the holiday season—but just 5% growth from last year compared to the forecast for 10% growth in holiday spending overall. Meanwhile, a Shopify survey predicts that consumers will spend $787—over $100 more than last year. To get a deeper look at how much Gen Z and Millennials plan on spending, we asked how their budgets for shopping this weekend compare to 2020:

The number of young shoppers who say they will spend the same as the 2020 went up significantly, while those who say they are spending less dropped, a signal that young consumers’ spending will at the very least match last years’. Of course, we know that more will be shopping, so revenue could look healthier for retailers overall.

When looking at where Gen Z and Millennials plan to shop, online retail is still the top type of stores or sites they plan to shop at for Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

While more than half (57%) of 13-39-year-olds say they will be shopping online retail (e.g. Amazon, Overstock, etc.) stores for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it should be noted that plans to shop in that retail category have dropped compared to the two previous years.. Part of this could be increased comfort with in-store shopping, but we suspect there are other trends at play. YPulse also found that while in 2019 Amazon was the top place young people planned to shop for gifts, in 2021 they are even more likely to say that they’ll be shopping at mass merchant retailers, a.k.a. Target and Walmart. The shift to ecommerce across retail categories has somewhat evened the field, and dethroned Amazon and other online-only retailers as the default convenient digital shopping destinations.

But one retail category that young consumers are increasingly planning to shop for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is home décor stores. Of course, young consumers have been spending more time at home in the last two years, making them all the more focused on their decor and spaces. At the same time, more Millennials have been buying their own homes, potentially contributing to this shift. YPulse’s shopping for the home behavioral research found that the majority of Gen Z and Millennials say they will shop more for their home in the next year, and chances are they’ll be looking for good deals during Cyber Week. We told you that IKEA is one of Gen Z and Millennials’ top retail brands, and of course, they have an endless supply of affordable, stylish, and convenient furniture—and for the holidays this year, they unveiled their “Sustainable Living Shops,” which is full of earth-friendly furniture. Meanwhile, The Home Depot, Williams-Sonoma, and HomeGoods have been unveiling and teasing their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals early to grab shoppers’ attention.

The number of young consumers that say they plan to shop at children’s stores for Black Friday and Cyber Monday has also increased in the last few years, with 40% of Millennial parents saying they will be shopping at those types of shops this year. Sure, there are a lot of hot toys that Millennial parents are planning to buy their kids for the holidays, but when we asked parents what they plan on giving their kids as gifts this year, many of them tell us they’ll be getting them clothes. And the childrenswear market has certainly exploded in recent years reportedly growing to $252 billion globally, outpacing women’s and men’s fashion growth. And according to children’s brand Maisonette, social media is the reason. Millennial parents have a bigger presence on social platforms than previous generations and are looking for Insta-worthy outfits for their offspring as their “family becomes their brand online.” Just one example: the #MommyandMe hashtag was posted over 5 million times in 2020 alone. High-end brands, including European luxury labels, have increasingly released children’s lines as the market heats up. Even over the summer, brands like OshKosh B’gosh started targeting Millennial parents with nostalgic back-to-school campaigns.

Meanwhile, just over a quarter of young respondents say they will be shopping at dollar stores. When we presented Gen Z and Millennials’ top retail brands, Dollar General had a high YScore+ among Gen Z and Millennials, continuing to prove that young shoppers are looking to save when it comes to where they shop. It’s clear that when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, young consumers are keeping budget, affordability, and shopping early in mind, as usual. But there are also bigger shifts happening around these shopping holidays as ecommerce becomes a default across industries and these generations age into new life stages.

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

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