Millennials love physical stores, surveys find


Publish Date: September 28, 2017

Millennials are only interested in online shopping, right? Not so fast, according to two reports. A higher share of Millennials (92 percent) intends to visit a shopping center during the upcoming shopping season than any other age group, according to ICSC Research. This compares with 83 percent of Gen X-ers and 80 percent of boomers. Among all adults, 85 percent intend to visit a shopping center during the season.

Meanwhile, year-round, 71 percent of Millennials (those 18 to 36 years old) are visiting multiple stores in search of bargains, while 57 percent of boomers (age 53–71) are doing so online, according to a report from First Insight, a technology company that helps retailers price merchandise.

“The retail industry has been operating on the outdated assumption that boomers are shopping for deals primarily in-store and Millennials are searching for deals mostly online,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, in a statement accompanying the report. It turns out that not only are Millennials going to stores more than boomers are, but also that the boomers are increasingly comfortable with online shopping.

The Millennial preference for physical retail was reflected in other aspects of the ICSC study too. For instance, not only do the Millennials plan to purchase from physical stores this holiday season at that slightly larger proportion of 92 percent — versus 91 percent for boomers and 90 percent for Gen X — but when they shop online from retailers with physical stores, many more of the Millennials (50 percent) will go pick up their merchandise at the store than will Gen X-ers (39 percent) and boomers (33 percent).

Also, a lot more Millennials (69 percent) will be out shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend than Gen-X shoppers (60 percent) and boomers (41 percent), the ICSC survey indicates.

“The survey underscores the increased importance of Millennials for retailers and retail landlords,” said Jean Lambert, vice president of ICSC Research. “That applies to the holiday season as well as year-round — they have become physical retail’s most enthusiastic shoppers.”

Brick-and-mortar retailers will capture the vast majority of holiday expenditures across all age groups this holiday period, whether the purchases are made at their stores or on their websites, ICSC says. Again, Millennials top this metric (70 percent of their total expenditures) versus Gen X-ers (68 percent) and boomers (67 percent).

“The behavior between these generations is evolving,” said Petro, “and to benefit, retailers must recalibrate their approach to marketing, inventory and pricing to attract deal seekers who may have been overlooked based on outdated perceptions.” 

Access to the full report may be found here.