Millennial shoppers hit hard by economic downturn

NEW YORK — Millennial shoppers (consumers ages 18 to 34 years) now represent the highest percentage of Americans who do not have enough money to cover their basic needs, according to WSL/Strategic Retail, a leading authority on shopper behavior and retail trends.

The findings, which noted that nearly 25% of this young adult market said they are not able to make ends meet — as compared with 17% of adults ages 35 to 54 years and only 13% of those ages 55 years and older — was revealed as part of the company's How America Shops MegaTrends report, "Moving On 2012."

"The young adult market has always been known for being the most fashion forward, first to respond to trends and first to adopt to new retail channels," WSL/Strategic Retail president Candace Corlett said. "But they’re also the group that's been hit hardest by the economic recession, which has left them struggling to find jobs and pay down student loan debt."

The How America Shops MegaTrends report, "Moving On 2012," found that 80% of millennials believed it's important to get the lowest price on most things and 60% are likely to choose a lower-priced brand over their usual go-to brand, if they can save money. It also found that 57% of the demographic make a point to search online for discounts before shopping, and 63% now are sticking to only those brands and stores they know they can afford.

The findings gain significance when compared with results of the 2010 MegaTrends study, showing a full 10% increase in those who now make getting the lowest price a priority — even over long-held brand loyalty.

"This decline in millennial spending power presents a significant challenge to brands and retailers who have long considered young adults to be the 'golden ticket' to sales growth. Businesses must begin rethinking their strategy to lure these shoppers to buy," WSL/Strategic Retail CEO Wendy Liebmann said. "At the same time, they must reevaluate the power of this generation to support new brands and stores."

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