Millennial Report: Gen Z’s Say Don’t Give Up On Brick-and-Mortar Yet

Right now, we’re witnessing a change in consumer behavior. In 2020 alone, consumers spent $861 billion online according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates. That’s the highest annual U.S. ecommerce growth in at least two decades, and by far the biggest year-over-year jump for U.S. retail sales ever recorded! While online sales surge, you need to be prepared for success for the impending Digital Tidal Wave Creating Exponential eCommerce Growth.

But just because online sales are soaring right now, doesn’t mean we can forget about the importance of brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, an in-store eruption is slowly building, and we won’t be waiting long before it explodes.

That’s because one of the youngest generations is shaking things up—and I’m not talking about Millennials this time. Generation Z is preparing to topple the retail market as we know it.


Generation Z vs. Millennials

Who are these two generations, and how do they differ?

Millennials are the less cool, Harry Potter loving, skinny jeans wearing 25-40 year-olds who are drowning in student loans and hate their professional lives.

Gen Z is a terrifying mass of social media obsessed 6-24 year-olds who constantly need to express themselves.

And while Millennials value brand loyalty and saving, Gen Z is just beginning to form their adult shopping habits. As of right now, they’re currently the most frugal spenders with interests of their own.

In fact, Gen Z is on the precipice of changing the shopping horizon, and more specifically, they’re redefining everything we think we know about omnichannel retail.


Gen Z Shopping Habits

They may be a group of digital natives, but a whopping 81% of Gen Z consumers prefer in-store shopping over digital according to A.T. Kearney’s research on Generation Z habits.

So while we’re currently experiencing the greatest digital resurgence of our time, remember that it’s just a trend. And trends, by definition, are fleeting.

If Generation Z continues to value brick-and-mortar shopping experiences over digital, we’re in for quite the shakeup in about 10-15 years once they graduate from college and start making adult-size purchases.

The retail location isn’t the only shopping differentiator for Gen Z. To date, few Gen Z consumers show any brand loyalty whatsoever. Of course, that makes building consistent customer bases much more challenging, but it also opens up a massive opportunity for small retailers.

Here’s what I mean: the whole premise of mall brands is that they garner a huge following and that allows them to grow bigger and dominate the retail industry, squeezing out all the smaller retailers. But if Gen Z continues to be fickle and stray away from big-name brands (and other brands for that matter), the retailer giants will take a hit, finally allowing small retailers to seize an opportunity to expand.

Remember this information when you’re thinking about how to ride today’s ecommerce digital tidal wave because Gen Z’s in-store eruption is waiting to shake things up in the not-too-distant future.


—The Soph in Sophelle