How will Gen Z consumers shop for the holidays?

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
gift card in Santa's hand
Gen Z will buy gift cards this holiday season.

A new survey sheds light on Gen Z shoppers’ holiday plans.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of surveyed Gen Z consumers plan to start shopping in November and December, with many reporting they won’t start until the end of December, according to the 2023 holiday forecast from global branded payments provider Blackhawk Network.

Gen Z makes its influence known

Gen Z respondents also plan to buy 70% more gift cards than respondents from older generations this holiday season - 17 gift cards (10 physical and seven digital), while older generations plan to purchase 10 gift cards (seven physical and three digital). 

Surveyed Gen Z consumers also plan to spend 56% more on gift cards and 9% more on gifting overall when compared to the 2022 holiday season. Another trend getting a boost from Gen Z respondents is a shift in preferred payment types when it comes to holiday purchasing. 

While debit, cash and credit card payments remain the top three payment options among all generations surveyed, more younger shoppers surveyed will also look to store or credit card points (43%), mobile wallets (39%), and physical gift cards (37%) to pay for holiday gifts this year.

Overall, surveyed consumers plan to spend $770 on holiday gifting during the 2023 season, which is a relatively flat 3% increase from 2022. However, shoppers plan to spend 43% of their total holiday budget on gift cards—up from 37% in 2023.

“Our research found that after a year of economic ups and downs, consumers are still planning to spend on holiday, but overall gift spending will remain relatively flat as 96% of consumers report ongoing concerns about cost-of-living pressures,” said Jay Jaffin, chief marketing officer, BHN. “Consumers will once again look to gift cards to make the most out of gifting, with shoppers planning to spend nearly half of overall gifting budgets on gift cards, a trend largely driven by younger consumers. For retailers, as the youngest generation of shoppers continues to wield their influence and spending power this holiday season, it has become vital to expand and optimize marketing and gift card programs to include new ways to attract and engage young consumers.”

Editor’s Note: Interestingly, the recent Shopify-Gallup Holiday Shopper Pulse indicated many younger consumers will start their holiday shopping early this year. Read more here.

The ”BHN 2023 Holiday Branded Pay Study” was an online study conducted by Leger on behalf of Blackhawk Network (BHN) in July 2023. The sample size included 2,024 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older.