Gen Y Gives Department Stores A Chance For Holidays

One reason department stores have lost their hold over America is the scorn of Generation Y, that affluent Millennial crowd that cut its ultra-consuming teeth at such specialty stores as Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle.

But a study released this week by the National Retail Federation found department stores may get a boost, both from Santa and Gen Y. Some 61.6 percent of shoppers plan to shop at department stores for holiday items, the poll found--up from 53.1 percent in 2003.

And 79.1 percent of young adults plan to shop there--up from 72.9 percent last year and 65.9 percent in 2004, according to NRF's annual Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.

"This is a trend we noticed with back-to-school shopping," said Kathy Grannis, a spokesperson for the NRF. "Department stores seem to be getting the right merchandising mix, and are attracting younger shoppers."

Discount stores are still the most popular destination, with 70.3 percent of all respondents saying they plan to shop there, followed by department stores (61.6 percent), specialty stores (48.4 percent), grocery stores (49.3 percent), drugstores (21 percent), and crafts or fabrics stores (20.5 percent).

Almost half (47.1 percent) of consumers said they plan to shop online this year, up from 36 percent three years ago.

All told, consumers say they are expecting to spend $791.10 this holiday season--up from $738.11 last year--as well as spending $99.22 on themselves.

It looks like that will be a little easier to do this year: Women's Wear Daily is reporting that more stores and malls all across America plan to open their doors at midnight on Black Friday. (The nickname for the day after Thanksgiving, normally the most important retail day of the year, doesn't come from the foul mood of shoppers who dread the day, said Grannis, but because traditionally, it was the day that pushed retailers into the black for the year.)

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