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The Shopping Trends of Millennials

Written by Savannah Marie, Community Blogger | Mar 11, 2014 2:31 PM

Photo by Ian Muttoo

In this day and age, millennials often get the brunt of the criticism when it comes to money. Between complaints of spending money on frivolous things and our so-called narcissistic tendencies, public opinion appears to be at a low for the current generation of young adults.

However, what our critics don’t realize is that we are not the immature spenders that everyone thinks we are. Sure, we’ll be tempted by the latest iPhone — who wouldn't? — and perhaps we’ll buy some dinner at Sheetz instead of waiting an extra five minutes to make food at home. There is still a logic behind our spending trends — we don’t buy items purely for the sake of spending money, nor do we always drop large sums of cash on the latest technology.

It’s true that we spend a large amount of time at stores. Though we are the most likely to be at a store, we do not have the highest percentage of actually making a purchase — that title goes to senior citizens. Those of us who have seen Kevin Smith’s movie “Mallrats” know that most of the time you go to a store, it’s for the social interaction rather than the shopping notion. While there is a chance you might buy something, millennials prefer browsing and will only make a purchase 57 percent of the time.


When to Save

Another insight into the minds of millennials is this: we love a good bargain. We’re actually surprisingly conservative with our money. We grew up during a recession and are now stuck in a job market that doesn't provide nearly enough jobs for those of us with our shiny college degrees, so of course we’re going to hold onto our money when we can.

We will search for the best bargain possible on an item. With our handy-dandy smartphones, we’re able to compare prices as soon as we’re looking at the item we want and decide whether it’s worth dropping the big money on it or not. We look for the best deals and wait until we've saved up our money before making that purchase.

We also tend to balance out our purchases. For example, if I were to spend $300 on a new phone, I would eat at home for months, rather than spending addition hard-earned funds on eating out. We justify our large purchases by saving on minor purchases, for better or worse.


When to Splurge

However, just because we millennials are smart, young business professionals, doesn't mean we don’t feel the need to spend at times. I've developed a personal list of items and activities that millennials like me love to splurge on.

Unsurprisingly, Millennials spend the most money on electronics — smartphones, laptops and iPods, for example. Some people are so devoted to their electronics that they will wait in line to get them. New video-game consoles mean long lines at electronics stores, and there is always a line at the Apple store when the latest gadget gets released. New tech is always worth the cash, always.

Most millennials are living on their own for the first time in their lives. And while our parents love to boast that they made it through their 20s eating Spam and sleeping on a futon, we aren't likely to follow in their footsteps when it comes to living situations. Most young adults take pride in where they live, and will spend money on furnishing and outfitting their new living quarters to their needs. We will  typically spend money on items we believe to be essentials like handcrafted furniture, the perfect, yet modestly sized flat-screen TV and long-lasting cookware. But make no mistake, all items would be purchased during a sale or at a discounted price.

We spend our money on items that have functionality. While we may spend large amounts of money on certain items, these are items that will serve a purpose. While it may seem obscene to spend $300 on a phone, that is an item that a millennial will be guaranteed to use every day and certainly get his or her money’s worth from. We’ll spend money on an item that will last a long time, such as good running shoes or practical outfits.

Finally, millennials will spend on entertainment every once and a while. We all need to let loose sometimes, and we work hard for our money! Indulging in a dinner date with friends, a weekend trip to the casino, or even catching a new movie at the theatre are all activities millennials consider worth the cost.

While we may have the façade of indulgence, our purchases are items that serve a purpose. We do try to get a good deal when we can — who doesn't? — but sometimes you just have to spend a decent amount of money to make a good investment in an item.

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