As the US holiday shopping season kicked off, retailers in the United States were looking to an unexpected savior to keep the tills humming: millennials.
The generation of 22 to 37-year-olds have long been seen as cash-strapped and debt-laden after graduating from college into a jobless economy after the 2008 global financial crisis.
But as businesses across the US economy rolled out online promotions and doorbuster sales to market the “Black Friday” start to the annual holiday shopping season, retailers were targeting young adults as key to growth.
“This holiday season retailers will experience the growing purchasing power of Gen Z and millennials,” National Retail Federation president Matthew Shay said.
The NRF has projected growth of up to 4.8 percent this year in overall retail spending in November and December to as much as $721 billion.
Purchasing power up
NRF survey data showed that 43 percent of adults between ages 18 and 24 expect to spend more compared with last year and that 38 percent of those between 25 and 34 will spend more.
By contrast, only nine percent of those 65 and older plan to buy more.
Those forecasts challenge the lingering sense of younger adults as still economically encumbered, a perception mocked by toymaker Hasbro with “Monopoly for Millennials,” which was released in time for Christmas.
In this version of the classic board game, contestants try to accumulate the most “experience” points. “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway,” reads the box.
The Monopoly reboot has been selling well, despite drawing eyerolls from some critics who say it relies on tired tropes.
NRF spokesman Ana Serafin Smith said a strong labor market, robust economy and tax cuts were among the factors that left millennials “in a good economic state to be able to splurge.”
Courtney Voss, a 31-year-old New York-based flight attendant, said she had already spent a lot this year and planned to stay within budget. But both Voss and her boyfriend have had salary boosts this year and she said many of her friends are doing better as well.
“At this point, the majority of my friends have pretty good jobs and they’re making good incomes,” she said.
Samuel Ball-Brau, 30, who works in finance in New York, looks forward to spending more this year.
“Finally we can afford to repay back all of the support our loved ones have given us,” he said.