Survey: Half Of US Shoppers Prefer ‘Experience Gifts’ To Material Items

Holiday Gifts

Some disavow clutter; others enjoy simplicity. Either way, more Americans are said to be holding a quiet position against materialism.

More consumers are creating their own gifts, opting for experiences, gifting and receiving used goods, asking for charitable contributions, or asking for nothing during the holiday season, The New York Times reported.

A desire for experiences, homemade gifts and secondhand products has been on the rise since 2016. (Analysts started to notice the trend at the time.) Mintel surveyed 1,700 shoppers online last year and discovered a fifth of consumers agreed that “experience gifts” were better than tangible products. A similar study this year indicated that number increased to approximately half.

The Mintel survey indicated the lion’s share of respondents who identified themselves as millennials or Generation Z preferred experiences over gifts. Additionally, 40 percent of those who called themselves baby boomers and 44 percent of shoppers who called themselves Generation X indicated they would prefer an experience as opposed to a tangible item.

However, the report noted that almost 190 million Americans shopped in stores or online over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2019, marking an increase of 14 percent from the prior year, per the National Retail Federation. Most reportedly purchased new merchandise.

Even so, reports showed brick-and-mortar retailers were joining forces with online reCommerce companies to bring pre-owned merchandise into their stores, adding to their sustainability efforts. Madewell, in one case, was teaming with thredUP for the “The Madewell Archive.”

The offering was described as a collection of its own branded jeans that sourced from the reCommerce platform and followed other recycling efforts from the company. Each pair of jeans was reportedly chosen by hand, washed, refurbished and placed in some of the retailer’s locations to be sold for $50 per pair.

That price point, according to reports, is significantly less expensive than a new pair of jeans that usually cost about $130.