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Older Millennials will be the biggest spenders this holiday, choosing experience over materialism 

Most Americans will spend more on holiday shopping in 2018 than they did last year, and older Millennials will be dropping the most money on seasonal purchases, according to a new survey.

Overall, Americans will spend an average of $658 on holiday shopping this year, a roughly 4 percent increase compared to the average $632 spent in 2017, according to the survey of, 1,500 U.S. consumers by Accenture.

Across generations, 90 percent of respondents said they would spend as much or more than they did in 2017.

Older Millennials (ages 28-37) will spend the most, dropping an average of $779 on gifts this year, while younger Millennials (ages 21-27) expect to spend an average of $630, which is still more than in 2017.

Older Millennials (ages 28-37) will spend the most on holiday gifts this year, dropping an average of $779. This chart illustrates the average spending for each generation

Generation Xers will spend an average of $734 on their holiday gifts this year, with 36 percent saying they will spend more than they did in 2017. 

Baby Boomers plan to spend an average of $595 this holiday season, with 13 percent of people age 55 and older saying they would be shelling out more money this year than they did in 2017.

All Americans were less likely to cite health care costs, mortgage payments and potentially higher taxes as a concern that could influence their holiday shopping, she said.

‘Overall, (Americans) are just less concerned about the economy,’ said Jill Standish, head of Accenture’s retail practice in an interview with ‘Last year 23 percent were concerned and this year it was only 15 percent. We’re seeing a lot of sensitivity around the economy going down.’

In addition, Millennials are increasingly choosing to buy experiences instead of stuff – with gifts of travel, theater tickets, spa treatments and home cleaning at the top of their gift lists this holiday season.

‘They’re all about experiences and not about having so much stuff,’ Standish said. ‘If you’re starting out in your first house or apartment you don’t have a lot of space for stuff, so it is (about) focusing on what matters and experiences rather than gifts.’

That trend spans all generations, with the number of shoppers who said they plan to buy physical products as gifts this year dropping 11 percentage points from last year to 73 percent, and the number who said they planned to buy experience or service gifts increasing by 5 percentage points to 49 percent.

Social media platforms are also becoming shopping destinations for more Americans, with the percent of respondents who plan to use those sites for holiday shopping nearly doubling to 15 percent compared to 8 percent in 2017.

‘Shoppers are less price sensitive when they’re browsing in the inspirational moment,’ Standish said. ‘They’re less likely to go price comparison if they can buy it right away (on a social media platform).’

Millennials are also expected to spend more on food shopping for holiday celebrations, as 60 percent of the younger portion of that cohort (ages 21-27) saying they will host a Christmas meal or a party, compared to 40 percent of Baby Boomers.

‘Holiday meals have historically been how we show we care for our loved ones,’ Standish said. ‘It’s positive to see Millennials, with their significant purchasing power, taking a greater interest in hosting these important holiday meals at home.’

To that end, nearly half of Americans (48 percent) are planning to spend more on high-quality, brand-name food items for their holiday celebrations, with more than half (54 percent) saying they were more likely to shop at a high-quality retailer instead of their usual grocer for those goods.