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Why Gen Y & Z continue shopping despite crisis

By Ole Spötter



Closed stores and strict hygiene measures are the images that have gone around the world since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Even though stores have reopened in many places, full purchasing power has not yet returned. However, the internet generation does not seem to be affected by this and continues to go on shopping sprees, online as well as offline. The result: long lines in front of stores catering to teenagers and a booming online business.

Luxury companies woo the internet generation

This generation is led by the internet and the culture that has evolved around it in recent decades. Its most faithful companion is the smartphone, where everything is stored and which provides the connection to the digital parallel world. Millennials and the generations following them are doing everything on the world wide web: from 'socialising' to shopping to handling their own business. The style that develops also depends on which corner of the net the community is located. Generation Z, for example, frequents the Chinese short video platform TikTok, where e-boys and e-girls can establish themselves.

Celine designer Hedi Slimane got inspired by this style for the men's collection SS 21 and correspondingly, organised a show. He took up the e-boy style - a skater style in black and white with rather feminine accessories like nail polish, small bags and lots of jewelry. In an about-turn to his previous designs for Celine, Slimane now targets a consumer group whose shopping mood is hardly affected by the pandemic for the company that belongs to French luxury group LVMH.

In the luxury segment, the age groups between 13 and 39 years are active again after the lockdown. “The demand of millennials and Generation Z is not diminishing. In fact, they were the first ones in our stores again when they reopened,” says Jean-Francois Palus, deputy CEO of LVMH competitor Kering, during the announcement of the results for the first half of 2020.

Other fashion houses like Burberry and Gucci are wooing young consumers too and conceptualise TikTok content for this growing target group. A recent study by US think tank Brookings Institution showed that in 2019, more than half of the US population (50.7 percent) was less than 40 years old, trending upwards.

Shopping need of millennials is unstoppable

While more than half of all women in Germany are not ready for high street shopping yet, 56 percent of the women in the 'young fashion' range had already been out shoppings as a survey among female consumers by HML Modemarketing showed. The best example is Brandy Melville: The Italian brand is currently the counterpart of the Hollister trend almost ten years ago when young people gathered in droves in front of stores and could not wait to rush in. Because the one size brand exactly meets the aspirations of teenage girls who want to emulate their influencer idols.

While overall apparel sales fell for the German market by 36 percent compared to the previous year, areas such as the trend-oriented young fashion segment only fell by 15.2 percent according to sales figures recorded in May by management consultants Hachmeister + Partner.

Miriaum Anlauf, buying director womenswear and boutique at Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf, confirms the rush of young people on stores: While ready-to-wear and formal wear are categories that are suffering, casual and sporty categories are seeing good sales. “The young fashion category, what we call ‘boutique,’ is clearly beyond expectations,” she says.

The Internet generation also continues to drive the switch to online shopping, a medium it idolised even before the lockdown but while stores were closed, purchases by young people increased even further. In the Youth Digital Study 2020 by Postbank, 35 percent of 16-18 year olds confirmed that they shopped online more than before. On average, adolescents spend 77 euros per month when shopping online, around 40 percent more than in the previous year.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited DE. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.

Photo: Celine Homme SS 21

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