Holiday shoppers expect to spend more money on the holidays this year — $658 on average compared to $632 last year — and millennials are poised to be the biggest spenders, according to Accenture's 12th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers. Older millennials will spend $779 on average, according to the report.
Nine in 10 respondents say they'll spend as much (53%) or more than (36%) last year, while 11% plan to spend less, Accenture found. Nearly four times as many younger millennials (49%) as baby boomers (13% ) said they plan to spend more.
Millennials are favoring retailers with good inclusion and diversity practices, Accenture also found. More than half (54%) of younger millennials say retailers should promote diversity, for example, and almost as many (51%) are more likely to shop at a retailer demonstrating awareness of social issues through promotions (70% of younger millennials and 69% of older millennials), in-store experience (66% of younger and 72% of older millennials) and product range (68% of younger and 70% of older millennials). Environmental awareness is also important to 61% of younger and 57% of older millennials.
The holidays this year are launching at a time of high levels of consumer confidence, but most millennials will be choosy about where that windfall goes, by Accenture's measure.
Consumer confidence is nearing an 18-year high, according to the Conference Board. September saw yet another increase in that index, moving to 138.4 (based on a probability-design random sample conducted by Nielsen) from 134.7 in August.
Millennials appear to be ready to put their money where their politics are. "Our research suggests that the millennial generation has high expectations when it comes to retailers' commitment to inclusion and diversity, and those values are influencing their decision-making in choosing one brand over another," Jill Standish, senior managing director and head of Accenture's Retail practice, said in a statement. "National and multinational retailers serve diverse customer bases, so they need to position the brand accordingly — its messaging as well as its product selection. That will require not just more local decision-making, but also assistance from analytics tools that enable retailers to build a granular picture of their customers."
But retailers could also lose out to businesses offering experiences rather than goods, Accenture found. The trend is moving away from buying gifts like toys, clothes and household appliances and toward travel, dining out, concerts and the theater, as well as toward services gifts like lawncare, home cleaning and spa treatments, according to the survey. Shoppers planning to buy physical goods dropped 11 percentage points from last year, to 73%, while the number planning on buying experience or service gifts expanded by 5 percentage points, to 49%.
Whatever they're selling or planning as events for holidays, retailers would be wise to turn to social media for marketing and sales, according to Accenture. The percentage of respondents planning to use social media sites for their holiday shopping this year nearly doubled, to 15% from 8% last year. And the percentage of those checking Instagram alone before they buy more than doubled, to 14% from 6% a year ago, according to the report.