Brick-and-mortar shops on the decline as millennials start traveling more

Sac State students Brittany Brazil and Matthew Jacobs describe a recent trip to Uruguay. Like many millennials, they are more interested in having experiences than acquiring possessions.

Kinsey Louie, 21, went to New Mexico for spring break to visit her boyfriend.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to a secluded Japanese spa.

“It was great,” she said. “We couldn’t use phones or technology. It was nice to get away from that for a while.”

Louie, a business major at California State University, Sacramento said she prefers traveling and having experiences to acquiring possessions.

Jay Passi, 21, who was out on campus last week campaigning for student government office, also said he prefers experiences to possessions.

“Our desires aren’t as material (as those of generation X and baby boomers),” he said. “Plus a lot of us don’t have money.”

An informal survey of Sac State students resulted in six out of six millennials enthused about travel and experiences over buying things. And when they shop, it’s more likely to be online. They are not an anomaly.

Nation-wide, brick-and-mortar retailers are grappling with the challenge of enticing younger shoppers, and malls are struggling to stay viable, said Pam Goodfellow of Prosper Insights and Analytics.

As cell phone use dramatically weeded out the pay phones that once sprinkled urban landscapes, Amazon and other online purveyors could result in the closure of shops and malls.

However, retailers aren’t going without a fight.

They are countering millennial apathy toward shopping with ‘lifestyle centers’ – kind of like a mall, but with more emphasis placed on the total experience and a wider variety of businesses, Goodfellow said.

Local examples include the Palladio at Broadstone in Folsom and the Fountains in Roseville, which have garnered an enthusiastic reception from Sacramento area residents, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The allure of the road can be great and while shopping is down, travel is booming.

Millennial travelers seek adventure in exotic locale -- and when it comes to booking trips to far-off destinations, they are often using traditional travel agencies. Linda Voelker of Giselle's Travel in Sacramento said that although Internet rates might be cheaper, for international travel to places like India or Costa Rica, millennials are often justifiably leery of being ripped off by shady operators.

Tours involving hiking up to a volcano, mountain biking, or zip-lining over rainforests are big with younger travelers, Voelker said. 

"They want adventure. They don't want to sit on their butts, in plain English," she continued. "We sent a couple to Peru, to Machu Picchu. They camped three nights, walked the Inca Trail and stayed at a hotel the rest of the time."

Although they lack the budget for lavish vacations, with a passion for music and travel, Sacramento college students Matthew Jacobs, 23, and Brittany Brazil, 25, are going to be a hard sell for retailers.

When he isn’t playing music, Jacobs likes playing online games and he’s most likely to buy music instruments and equipment online. When she needs new clothes, Brazil asks her sisters if they have any hand-me-downs, and if that fails, hits Goodwill for second-hand bargains.

The couple visited Uruguay for three weeks last year, where they met and played music with local residents. The experience made a deep impression on them, cementing their preference of experience to material things.

This year they hope to make it to Europe.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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