Gen Z has a completely different shopping preference from millennials — and it's good news for retail [Sales]
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When they want to go shopping, Gen Z-ers prefer to go to the store, according to a new survey by PriceWaterhouse Coopers.
Members of the "millennials on steroids" generation told PwC in a survey forecasting holiday shopping habits that they prefer the in-store experience to shopping online.
PwC surveyed 2,395 national consumers — and, separately, 301 young Gen Z consumers — for its annual Holiday Outlook survey.
The survey defines Gen Z as those between 13 and 21 years old, while those between 13 and 16 years old were considered "young" Gen Z.
In the survey, 81% of young Gen Z respondents said they preferred to shop in stores, while 40% said they will only shop in stores.
Shoppers over 17, on the other hand, said they preferred to split their shopping evenly between online and in-store.
Their store of choice makes them different from millennials, too. 60% of young Gen Z respondents said they prefer the mall for shopping. According to PwC, malls are three times more popular than other types of stores — including outlets and downtown stores — with these shoppers.
Struggling malls have been diversifying their portfolios to include food offerings and other things that wouldn't traditionally be called a "mall store," and it seems like young teens still appreciate the mall as a place to get together and hang out.
When Gen Z-ers in the survey were asked what they loved about stores, they described the in-store experience as a motivating factor. "Fun experiences" and "live events" were mentioned, as well as in-store specials.
It's important to recognize that Gen Z's preference for in-store shopping doesn't mean that the US doesn't have too many stores, or that the in-store experience doesn't have to adapt to changing tastes.
Most of what Gen Z says they like about stores is the unique experience they can provide when compared to online shopping — seeing items in real life. For a generation with limited life experience, it's easy to see how this would be useful.
It's possible that Gen Z prefers to shop in stores because they often don't have their own credit or debit cards, though they also prefer to pay with their phone or wearable devices more than other generations, according to the PwC survey.
It's also possible that Gen Z shoppers' preferences will look more like millennials' as they get older and busier, and start desiring convenience over experiences.