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Oft-Ignored Gen X Could Be This Season’s Holiday Shopping Savior

Black Friday will kick off the holiday season’s spending spree, and a surprising group plans to outspend all other consumers.

According to the NPD Group’s 2019 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, released Monday, Gen X consumers ages 40-54 have major plans for their holiday dollars.

According to the report, which surveyed 3,485 respondents, Gen X is most likely generational cohort to spend money on clothing and accessories, with the majority (68 percent) of respondents saying they’re vying for those items this holiday season. They are also the most likely group to spend on entertainment items, with 44 percent saying that’s where they’d be allocating their funds.

More than half of Gen X consumers (51 percent) are most likely to shop mass merchants, though the majority (77 percent) plans to shop online pure-plays.

While the youngest shoppers, Gen Z, are just getting in on the Black Friday craze, one-third of the generation plans to start their seasonal shopping on the holiday—the most of any age group. However, the cohort’s older contingent, ages 18-22, plans to spend the least of any surveyed generation on seasonal sales. On the whole, Gen Z is likely to buy clothing, accessories and electronics—but they’re more likely to shop in stores than online.

As a group, millennials plan to spend less than their older counterparts, Gen X and Baby Boomers, during the 2019 holiday season. However, one-third plans to spend more than they did during last year’s holiday. More than 20 percent of millennials plan to jump into their holiday shopping on Black Friday, second only to Gen Z. Most will shop online, and nearly half (46 percent) are looking to buy electronics.

Boomers are the eager beavers of all surveyed shoppers, with more than half (57 percent) admitting they planned to start shopping before Thanksgiving—making them more likely than any other generation to do so. Behind Gen X, Boomers plan to spend the most of any other generation, roughly in keeping with their spending last year.

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They are also more mall-oriented than any other group, with nearly a quarter (24 percent) favoring department stores and 27 percent preferring national chains. Nearly one-third (26 percent) plan to buy liquor or wine as holiday gifts for friends and loved ones.

The Silent Generation will also be the last generation at the stores, according to NPD data. Four out of 10 of these older consumers said they would start their holiday shopping late, and only half of them planned to shop online. While these shoppers may be late out of the gate, NPD analysts said, they could represent an important group for retailers looking for last-minute sales.

“No consumer can be left behind in today’s increasingly competitive retail environment where shoppers demand a more personalized approach than ever before,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at the NPD Group, said.

“In order to win the holiday retail battle, marketers need to address holiday shoppers across every generation, and also make them feel like they matter,” he added.