Young Adults, Retailers Move Home For The Holidays - And Beyond

Graduating from college is taking on a new meaning as many of today’s grads are going back to where they came from -- their parents' home. Whether it's due to the issue of finding a job or just smart saving, the home is once again full of life. This boomerang of young adults may just be stirring up the demand for home furnishings and home décor.

According to a recent Pew Research Center analysis, 41 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 29 said they are currently living with -- or have in the past few years moved back in with -- their parents. More so, 61 percent of study participants ages 25-34 know of friends or family members who have moved back home.

Compared to last year, home furnishing sales -- everything from furniture to décor to even home improvement products -- were just over eight percent for the entire year. According to IBM’s 2012 holiday retail forecast, the trend is still going strong, with the "Home" category expected to have posted a 7.5 percent increase during the months of November and December alone, and nearly 9 percent for the entire year. 

I often say that economic and social factors act as trigger events in retail -- and I said it again this holiday season. Retailers would do well to emphasize items for the home -- especially since some categories that we typically see perform well during the season are likely to lag this year. Consumer electronics were predicted to decrease 2.6 percent over the holidays, with children’s clothing predicted to have increased only 1.3 percent. 

What about retailers who only carry a limited number of home goods, or none at all? How can they increase sales? Recently, I have seen a number of merchants leveraging new tactics to help combat slow growth in other categories. Layaway isn’t a new idea, but more brick-and-mortar retailers are offering this service to not only appeal to the wallet-strapped customer, but to also bring people back into the physical store.

For the first time, Toys “R” Us is offering a layaway program, with extremely competitive interest rates. This is compelling similar retailers to reactivate their own layaway programs -- with lower interest rates, and in some cases, zero interest rates. 

During the past few months, the phrase “Home for the Holidays” has been the trigger to get shoppers to spend on updating their home. Not only is it a great time to decorate, it’s also time to throw out that dorm room comforter and get something more appropriate for home. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see keeping bedding from college -- it needs to be tossed! As more and more young adults move back to the nest, parents will have to invest in items to fill it again. Updating furniture and stocking up on bedding and linens will help parents welcome their kids back home. 

When we think “holiday,” we think of home. These days, home may be unexpectedly full as grown children return to the roost. Retailers should keep that in mind. It’s a powerful trend that is likely to persist well into this New Year.



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