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Good News for Retailers: Millennials Love to Shop

Millennials may be tech-savvy, but a new study by the Urban Land Institute reported in MediaPost reveals that they also love shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, whether your retail business sells online, offline or both, the good news for retailers is that Millennials enjoy shopping in all its permutations.

The poll of about 1,200 people aged 18 to 35 found that more than one-third (37 percent) “love” shopping while nearly half (48 percent) “enjoy” it. Just 4 percent hate shopping, and 12 percent think it’s a chore. Not only do 70 percent of women agree that shopping is “entertainment” for them, but 50 percent of men think so as well.

Of course, the problem with entertainment is that it requires constant change to keep it fresh. Urban Land Institute’s research found that Millennials get bored quickly, and require new experiences to keep shopping fun and fresh. To keep them interested in physical stores, the report suggests retailers should constantly “reinvent” their businesses by refreshing décor, adding new stock, or launching pop-up shops.

Over half of Millennials polled visit brick-and-mortar stores at least once a month. They patronize all types of stores, from department stores and traditional malls to local businesses and neighborhood shopping centers.

However, the time spent in physical retail locations pales in comparison to Millennials’ use of ecommerce sites. Nearly half (45 percent) say they spend an hour a day visiting shopping websites, and a whopping 91 percent report making a purchase online in the past six months.

One thing to know about Millennial shoppers is that they see shopping as a social event: Survey respondents say shopping is a key way they spend time with their friends and family members. Perhaps that’s why Millennials love “third places”—public locations (think Starbucks) where they can hang out with their friends.

If you’re looking for a retail location, consider one that has plenty of public gathering space, as well as free Wi-Fi, which Millennials consider essential. Even Millennials who live in suburban areas describe themselves as city dwellers, so look for “urban” models of retail space that appeal to these customers. For example, Millennials like walking or riding their bikes to shopping locations, so pedestrian- and bike-friendly shopping centers are a plus.

Millennials are eager shoppers both online and off, and don’t really see a demarcation between the online and offline experience. Therefore, it’s important to provide multichannel sales support. For instance, you should offer the option to return products from your website in your stores, or to order products online and pick them up in-store.

How are Millennials affording all this shopping? Don’t believe everything you hear about this age group’s lack of spending power. Keeping in mind that the group studied ranged from 18 to 35, their median income was about $46,000, and nearly half (45 percent) have household incomes over $50,000 annually.

Since one-fourth of Millennials still live at home with their parents (and more than 20 percent of those living independently still get financial help from their folks with bills for cell phones, car insurance and health insurance), Millennials have more discretionary income than you might expect. Tap into what they want from retailers, and you can capture some of that income for yourself.

Image by Flickr user Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)


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