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The Different Ways Gen Z, Millennials and Boomers Shop for the Holidays

They might surprise you.
Photo: David M. Benett/Getty Images for Depop

Photo: David M. Benett/Getty Images for Depop

Black Friday, also known as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, is fast approaching, which means it's now crunch time for marketers to solidify their strategies for appealing to shoppers during what is, for most retailers, the most important time for sales.

And according to the retail consultancy NPD Group, a one-size-fits-all strategy isn't going to work, as every generation or age group has different shopping habits, according to its 2019 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey. In other words, Gen Z is going to spend differently, on different items and at different times than the boomers they currently love to mock.

"No consumer can be left behind in today's increasingly competitive retail environment where shoppers demand a more personalized approach than ever before," said Marshal Cohen, The NPD Group's chief industry advisor in a statement. "In order to win the holiday retail battle, marketers need to address holiday shoppers across every generation, and also make them feel like they matter."

So how does each generation plan to shop this holiday season? Read on for NPD's predictions, some of which may surprise you.

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Gen Z: The youngest generation of consumers (NPD polled those aged 18 to 22) understandably plans to spend the least out of all generations, and they plan to start on Black Friday to get those deals. And, consistent with reports of their shopping behavior outside of the holiday season, they are less likely than millennials and Gen X to shop online.

Millennials: Twenty percent will start shopping on Black Friday and the vast majority will shop online. They also have their eyes on electronics, with 46% planning to spend on gadgets.

Gen X: The generation encompassing those born between 1965 and 1980 are expected to be the biggest spenders of all the generations. They are the most likely to spend on clothing and accessories, as 68% said they plan to do, as well as entertainment. They're also the most likely to shop at mass retailers as well as online-only retailers like Amazon.

Boomers: Baby boomers are expected to plan ahead and start shopping earlier than any other generation and spend the second-highest amount after Gen X. As for where they'll shop, they plan to go the traditional route, choosing department stores and national chains more than any other age group.

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