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3 Stats on Gen Z and Millennials’ Holiday Gift Shopping

Even though necessities are on holiday wish lists, young people still plan on shopping for meaningful gifts…


  • Most Gen Z and Millennials think it’s important to give personal gifts
  • They’ll be finding their gift ideas largely online—but that isn’t the only place they’ll shop for them
  • Almost half of young people are planning to do secret santas and gift exchanges

This winter holiday shopping season has already been defined by budget concerns. Especially for Gen Z and Millennials, the impacts of inflation are changing the way they’ll shop for their loved ones: they’re planning to shop early, spend less, and buy more necessities. But, at the end of the day, they want the gifts they give to be special, and most agree that they’ll do whatever it takes (or costs) to make that happen. In YPulse’s Holiday Shopping Plans report, we dig into what kinds of gifts young people will be giving to their loved ones this year, and how they find them.

We already know what gifts are at the top of their own personal wish lists, but it’s important for brands to know what exactly they’re shopping for to give to others (and where), too. These three stats show how 13-39-year-olds will be giving gifts this year:

58% of 13-39-year-old holiday shoppers say it's important the gifts they give to the people they love are personal

Out of a list of 17 kinds of gifts ranging from practical to funny to trendy, 58% of Gen Z and Millennials say it’s important that the gifts they give to the people they love are personal, making it their top response. Especially this holiday season, they’ll be looking for gifts that show their love, hopefully without having to spend more than they’ve budgeted for. The vast majority of young consumers (88%) agree that the holiday gifts they give to loved ones are a token of their appreciation towards them—so sentimentality and specialization are popular themes for the gifts they want to give. 

But, 36% of young consumers also say it’s important to them to give gifts that are exactly what the person asked for. Millennial parents especially are prioritizing these kinds of gifts, no matter the cost: 74% agree “I am going to make sure my children get the gifts they want regardless of the economic situation.” But, in giving gifts to other people their age, “exactly what they ask for” could mean a highly personalized gift: 77% of young people say they would rather receive a gift that is inexpensive but more meaningful, over an expensive but less personalized gift. 

Another 36% say it’s important they give practical gifts; this year especially, concerns over cost of living are driving young consumers to consider their loved ones needs when gift giving. With the same kinds of gifts on their wish lists, 29% of young people say they’ll be buying essentials / necessities (e.g. gas money, grocery store gift cards, etc.) for others. They are split on how they feel about giving gift cards, though: 50% agree they don’t like giving gift cards as gifts to loved ones because it feels impersonal.

77% of 13-39-year-old holiday shoppers get gift ideas for others online

No matter what kind of gift they’re searching for, 77% of young consumers say they will be getting ideas for those gifts online. Online shop browsing is the top way they’ll be getting ideas online (42%), which makes sense given online retail is the number one place they plan to shop from this year (with Amazon at the top of the list, of course). Social media (39%) and online influencers (16%) are also sources of inspiration, especially for Gen Z females (more than half of whom say they’ll be getting gift ideas on social media). 

Of those getting inspiration on social media, Instagram will be the top spot they get gift ideas this year, but TikTok trails close behind. YPulse has said dozens of times now that TikTok is fueling shopping trends in big ways, with hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt racking up nearly 30B views. These gens trust other people their age on social media to recommend them the best products, so while only 18% of young people say they’ll be using gift guides for ideas, TikTok compilations will likely be influencing far more than that. And, 37% of young people even agree they give gifts based on how they might look on social media—so ones they find there in the first place will be pre-approved. 

However, 43% still say they’ll get gift ideas from classic in-store browsing. YPulse data shows that in-person shopping is back on the rise after the pandemic confined young consumers to online shopping (even though they were already doing it often). Young people are most likely to say they’ll be doing their shopping equally in-person and online this year. Really, they’ll be looking anywhere they can find a good sale so brands would do well to offer as many in-store deals as they do online bargains.

47% of 13-39-year-olds think they will participate in a secret santa gift exchange with a group of friends, coworkers, or family

Years ago, a study saying Millennials wanted to “ban secret santa” was all the buzz. It reported “that millennials find the “Secret Santa” gift exchange to be anxiety-inducing,” especially in the workplace, because they worry about not giving enough. But, secret santa and white elephant gift exchanges will likely be on the holiday schedule for nearly half of young people this year. Beyond shopping for the most important people in their lives, they’ll also be looking for ideas for these smaller, but also significant, gift-giving moments.

These exchanges are not limited to small-budget office holiday party swaps, though. In fact, only 19% of young holiday shoppers say they plan to buy for a Teacher, boss, and co-worker, so these exchanges are more likely going to be with their close friends and family. YPulse data shows 64% of young consumers agree they’re going to give fewer gifts this year because they can’t afford it, so gift exchanges can be the perfect way for them to cut back on the number of gifts they’re giving by only needing to buy for one person.