Cyber 5 Spend Trends

Shoppers Head Back to Stores as Gen Z Shells Out for Beauty and Luxury, Gen X for the Basics, and Multicultural Consumers Show Strong Year-Over Purchasing Power

In-store is in-style

Gen Z continues to lead the trend–this time, for flipping the script on holiday-season shopping expectations. For the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday known as the “Cyber 5,” traditionally the busiest ecommerce days in the calendar year, Gen Z showed us they prefer to shop in-store, and at a significantly higher rate than older generations. 

Not only did this generation of shoppers, ranging in age from their teens to mid-20s, spend 2% more over the Black Friday weekend than they did last year (likely due to the now-regular income provided by their first jobs), but they spent 13% more in-store than they did last year. Exiting the weekend, data showed Gen Z was 5% more likely than other generations to shop in-store during Cyber 5.

Back to basics

Gen Z are the children of Generation X, who spent their money during Cyber 5 at discount stores and on furniture and home décor ahead of the holidays. Going into Black Friday weekend, Gen Xers said they planned to do less than half of their holiday shopping during Cyber 5. True to form, while showing a slight preference for shopping in-store (60% versus 40% online), Gen X as a whole spent just 3% more than last year—less, actually, when you account for inflation.

By category spend, Generation X plays into one of our macro Cyber 5 trends: Consumers shopped household items, personal care items and pet needs above all else, suggesting they’re prioritizing essentials over holiday gifts. This might be because they’re cash-strapped and cautious amid uncertain economic signals, or—like the 52% of consumers who said they would spend less than last year; or the 28% who said they wouldn’t shop the weekend at all—they might be waiting for prices to dip lower as the holidays approach. The extra weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year would certainly give them more time to do so.

The most beautiful time of the year

For marketers keen to reach shoppers in the last weeks of 2022—still the biggest shopping days on the calendar—it’s worth following the money. Gen Z has shown they are willing to spend, have the money to spend, and want to immerse themselves in the joy of the buying experience. This is the generation that’s not only 1.4 times more likely than other generations to shop in-store, but going into Cyber 5, the only generation to over-index on plans to spend big on luxury items in addition to beauty and electronics. 

Notably, beauty was the number-one purchase category for Black Americans during Cyber 5—a consumer base that not only expressed desire to shop going into the weekend (holiday gifts and deals on everyday items), but which also said higher prices due to inflation would not impact their spend decisions and that they were willing to spend more than they did last year in the same period. Early figures for this year’s Cyber 5 show Black Americans spent 8% more than last year, with in-store purchases increasing a whopping 12%, year-over. Asian shoppers spent 6% more year-over, while Hispanic shoppers spent 4% more this Black Friday weekend than last year (with a 7% bump in in-store purchases).

With this data in mind, advertisers can meet consumers where they are heading into the holidays and the new year. Gen Z’s sweet spot, beauty and luxury, can be traced to the consumable nature of social media, where influencers push an endless supply of products touting near-instant, feel-good results (consider the before-and-after beauty tutorials on TikTok that receive hundreds of thousands of views).

Stalling for sales

Sales may have hit a new record for the period (after inflation, they were near-flat, year-over), but with more than a quarter of consumers claiming they’d abstain from shopping Cyber 5, and major retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart indicating that spend on toys was down year-over, we can assume there’s more holiday shopping to come from those holding out for even lower price points. And no marketer should ignore the significant increase in spend among multicultural consumers—Black, Hispanic and Asian—compared to the same five-day period in 2021. As the average consumer gets savvier about when and where they buy the products on their wish lists, advertisers must remain observant for what matters to these shoppers as well as the right window of opportunity for reaching those who are willing to pay.

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