We don’t want stuff
Listen up world, it’s finally happened. Americans don’t care about STUFF anymore. That’s right, we’re buying fewer things and we’re proud of it.
Even with the exponential rise of online retailers and the same day delivery of Amazon Prime, people are spending less on things and more on experiences. Spending is down by almost four percent across the retail board according to a Business Insider study. This includes what we’ll pay for electronics, home goods, and what we’ll spend at department stores.
[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s not just that Americans spend less, it’s that we’re changing our lifestyle #retail #consumerism” quote=”Conversely, spending at restaurants and bars has increased six percent! It’s not just that we’re spending less, it’s that we’re changing our lifestyle. That’s big news and it’s time to take note.”]
You know those millennials we all love to complain about? “Gah, they won’t get good jobs, they hate buying houses, they stopped buying fabric softener!” These are the people affecting this change. I’m sure of it. Now, I have little evidence to back up these claims but bare with me, I have a theory.
We’re the online shoppers
Amazon Prime has been the most time saving addition to our lives since smartphones. Heck, the entire online retail boom has helped us shop smarter and spend more wisely. It has also helped us save money.
Now I can’t speak for everyone, but when I shop in a brick and mortar store, I always overbuy. Target is set up in such an intriguing way that I can easily find ten things I didn’t need but really really want, every time I go in there. Amazon makes impulse shopping more difficult (though they’re trying to fix that with the ever addictive Dash buttons), and when I need new toothpaste or a microwave, Amazon is the first place I go.
If I went to Target for new toothpaste, I wouldn’t get out of there for under 50 bucks.
With Amazon, I’m in and out in a minute for under $5 with a three pack. I’m sure you know this story well. It’s no wonder we’re spending less at brick and mortar stores when it’s so much easier to buy just what we need when we purchase online.
So why are we spending more on experiences?
The millennial philosophy assumes two principles: Life is short, and happiness is key.
Why would I work a nine to five job for 30 years like my parents, when they were miserable the entire time? This is the thing that most confuses non-millenials who are trying to understand our generation.
But the mistake is that they’re assuming completely different priorities. Provide, earn, spend, grow, has been the capitalist mantra for years.
This generation shouts “experience, live, find bliss, love more!” We grew up on inspirational movies that preached this, and we implicitly understand the regrets of generations that came before us.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Millennials spend more on experiences than retail because we want life, we want stories!” quote=”It’s no wonder then that we’re spending more on experiences – we want life, we want stories.”]
We want time out with our friends that enrich us in impossible ways. We want coffee shop conversations that drag into late Wednesday mornings, we want jobs that respect us, careers that support our lifelong quest for happiness and fulfillment.
And we want to spend our hard earned money seeing the world, refurbishing old campers and getting away, we want to enrich our lives in the most sincerest of ways, and that’s in direct conflict with the consume and nest model of previous generations.
You don’t have to like millennials…
People may argue that a single generation is not able to influence spending habits so drastically, or that there is some economic reason why all of us are being more thoughtful about spending money at our local malls, but I see a pattern in the way my generation thinks in almost every business news byte.
You don’t have to like us, you don’t have to understand us, but we are influential, even if we don’t think like the generations that came before. And we’re not entitled, we’re seeking meaning in this life.