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This holiday season’s biggest spenders will be…

BY Deena Amato-mccoy

Millennials are expected to be the biggest gift-givers this holiday season, and social media will be their shopping platform of choice.

This was according to the “12th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey,” from Accenture. The study revealed that that Americans will spend an average of $658 on holiday shopping this year, compared with $632 in the 2017 survey. Older Millennials will spend an average $779, and nearly four times as many younger Millennials compared to Baby Boomers (49% versus 13%) plan to spend more this holiday season.

Retailers that are well-positioned to grab this wallet share are those with strong inclusion and diversity practices, including those regarding age, gender, ethnicity and disability, among others. In fact, 51% of younger Millennials are more likely to shop at a retailer that demonstrates awareness of such issues.

Millennials are also more likely to choose brands that demonstrate inclusion and diversity across promotions and offers (cited by 70% of younger Millennials and 69% of older Millennials), their in-store experience (66% and 72%), product range (68% and 70%), and their environmental awareness (61% and 57%).

Social media platforms will be a go-to for Millennials’ holiday shopping this year. Customers planning to use social-media sites for their holiday shopping this year nearly doubled to 15% from 8% last year. The percentage of those planning to check Instagram before looking or buying elsewhere online more than doubled to 14% from just 6% last year.

“Social media continues to be a real disruptor in targeting today’s consumers, who are spending a great deal of time in these channels and naturally want to be able to purchase directly, through the click of a button,” said Jill Standish, retail lead, Accenture. “Now, more than ever, it’s imperative for retailers to further rethink and redesign their digital shopping capabilities and methods so they can meet customers on their terms.”

There is also a growing trend away from product gifts, such as toys, clothes and household appliances and toward “experience” gifts such as travel, dining out, concerts and the theater. Millennials are also purchasing more “services” gifts, such as lawn care, home cleaning and spa treatments. Those who plan to buy physical products as gifts this year dropped 11 percentage points from last year to 73%, and the number who said they planned to buy experience or service gifts increased five percentage points to 49%.

When shopping for groceries during the holidays, 82% of respondents will visit companies where they “trust the grocery provider and its products and services.” Meanwhile, 78% will shop at retailers that “offer the best range of options so you can buy majority of items in one place,” and 69% would be inspired to purchase from a grocery provider they don’t normally go to if the store was conveniently located.

Younger shoppers also appear less concerned with the economy and their overall financial situation than they were last year. One-third are less likely (15% versus 23% last year) to cite “a concern about the economy” as a factor negatively affecting their holiday shopping this year. Fewer shoppers plan to take advantage of retailers’ cost-savings programs or benefits – such as loyalty programs, on-the-spot competitor price-matching, special e-mail offers, Amazon Prime Day, and deal sites such as Groupon or Living Social. Respondents who said they would buy all their gifts in one place, even if it meant paying more, increased 7 points, to 32% this year, according to the study.

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