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Millennials plan to spend more online this year, new survey finds

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People walk by empty retail space in lower Manhattan on April 17, 2017 in New York City. 

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Millennials have big plans for the year ahead, at least when it comes to their online shopping habits. 

Over 27% of millennials plan to spend “significantly more” online and less in-store this year, according to a survey from ESW, a global direct-to-consumer leader that helps retailers expand DTC channels.

It’s a noteworthy update for analysts searching for a winner in the pandemic-era tug of war between brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping. While early pandemic saw an unprecedented online shopping boom, in-person shopping has been ready for a resurgence, as eager shoppers return to newly reopened brick-and-mortar stores. 

But millennials, defined as those currently between the ages of 25 and 40, appear ready to stick with e-commerce: 73% of millennial survey participants said they plan to spend “the same or more” online this year. 

In all, only 15% of millennials said they planned to spend less online in 2023.

Notably, millennials diverge from other generational cohorts in some key spending categories, per the survey, which polled 16,000 people across 16 countries. 

People walk by empty retail space in lower Manhattan on April 17, 2017 in New York City. 

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

When it comes to health and beauty products, almost 50% more millennials planned to increase their online spending compared to the younger Gen Z, a generation that’s pointedly shaping the beauty industry

Millennials also plan to purchase more luxury goods online this year than Gen Z, Gen X and baby boomers, according to the survey. 

The enthusiasm for online spending is particularly notable in combination with the relative youth of millennials, a group that still isn’t “in their prime earning years,” said Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, CEO for ESW North Americas, in a statement. 

“They are spending more online than in-store across several categories, and these results indicate that brands must continue to evolve, improve, and optimize their ecommerce to attract and retain this increasingly powerful demographic,” Bousquet-Chavanne said.


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