Survey explores Gen Z and Millennial holiday shopping plans 

Editor’s note: Jenna Varites is research director at Leger USA, a market research company.

To gauge purchase intent during the holiday shopping season, it is critical for brands and retailers to understand consumer behavior. No two customers are the same, which is especially true when it comes to different generations of shoppers.

From October 5-12, 2023, we at Leger surveyed 1,001 U.S. consumers to explore their holiday spending plans, purchasing behaviors and outlook for 2024. Our analysis uncovered insights into how U.S. Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers plan to purchase gifts this year. 

Let’s dive into four key findings from our survey that can help retailers and brands understand younger generations’ preferences as we approach the holiday season.

1. Younger shoppers plan to spend more.

There is an uptick in U.S. consumers expecting to spend more on gifts in the 2023 holiday season, however, younger shoppers have the greatest expectation for increased spending. Gen Zers who plan to purchase gifts anticipate spending an average of $160 more this year, and Millennials who plan to purchase gifts expect to spend $101 more. These younger purchasers are primarily focused on giving better gifts this year compared to the older generations, so efforts to help them choose the best gifts for their loved ones are likely to be appreciated. 

2. Gen Z and Millennials are making a shopping list and checking it twice. 

How is Gen Z preparing for holiday shopping?Younger shoppers anticipate preparing differently this holiday season. The top three ways Gen Zers who plan to purchase gifts are preparing differently are: 

  • Buying gifts when on sale, even if well in advance of the holidays (49%).
  • Setting aside money (46%).
  • Creating a holiday shopping budget and sticking to it (40%).

Millennials who plan to purchase gifts are:

  • Buying gifts when on sale, even if well in advance of the holidays (53%).
  • Doing more comparison shopping (43%).
  • Setting aside money (42%). 

Younger shoppers are ready to spend. Brands and retailers are likely to benefit from promoting sales well in advance to attract savvy shoppers.

3. ‘Tis the season for deal days.  

While many retailers are offering early holiday deal days, our survey showed that U.S. consumers who plan to purchase gifts expect to shop during deal days.  Black Friday (73%) is the most popular deal day, followed closely by Cyber Monday (71%). Deal days are critical for younger shoppers, with both Gen Z and Millennials being significantly more likely to take advantage of Black Friday than the older generations. Brands and retailers should ensure they have a plan in place to connect with Gen Z and Millennials on deal days. 

4. Younger consumers are more excited to shop than their older counterparts.

U.S. consumers largely report feeling positive toward shopping this upcoming holiday season, and younger consumers are particularly optimistic. While 69% of U.S. consumers who plan to purchase gifts are looking forward to holiday shopping this year, 82% of Gen Zers and 76% of Millennials who plan to purchase gifts are looking forward to it. Brands and retailers can capitalize on the younger generations’ festive spirit to draw them in and keep them excited about buying gifts for those on their list.   

Speak to Gen Z and Millennials with your holiday marketing 

The youngest consumers are ready to open their wallets this holiday season. It’s critical that your marketing messages and offers speak directly to the differences in how they plan to shop this year. And it’s not too early to start thinking about your strategy for 2024. According to our survey, 72% of U.S. consumers have a positive outlook for their financial situation in 2024, and Gen Z and Millennials are even more positive.