How Millennials Shop Online - eMarketer

Newsletters Sign-Up

Plans & Pricing

Does My Company Subscribe?

How Millennials Shop Online

Spending more than 1 hour per day on retail sites is fairly common

July 10, 2013

The millennial demographic has grown up embracing the deep discounts and convenience offered by online shopping. A January 2013 survey from ad agency DDB Worldwide of US web users’ attitudes toward ecommerce found that both males and females ages 18 to 34 were more likely than their 35- to 64-year-old counterparts to engage in nearly every online shopping activity, with 40% of males and 33% of females in the younger age group reporting that ideally they would buy everything online.

Attitudes Toward Ecommerce Among US Internet Users, by Demographic, Jan 2013 (% of respondents in each group)

In terms of how these eager digital millennial shoppers actually behave, a February survey of 18- to 35-year-old internet users in the US, conducted by nonprofit research group the Urban Land Institute, found that 45% of respondents said they spent 1 hour or more per day checking out retail-oriented sites. Men were more likely to say they spent more than 2 hours daily on retail sites, cited by 20%, compared with 13% of women who spent as much time per day online shopping.

Daily Time Spent Shopping Online* According to US Millennial Internet Users, by Gender, Feb 2013 (% of total)

Among those who purchased electronics and sports equipment/accessories, 38% and 45%, respectively, said they preferred buying these items online, whether they researched the purchase in a store or not. The greatest percentage of respondents, 50%, reported researching electronics online, while still buying in-store.

Twenty-three percent of millennials said they liked to purchase cosmetics and personal care items online and 27% reported preferring buying shoes online. And whether or not respondents bought shoes online, more than half said they liked to consult the internet at some point in the purchase path.

Preferred Method for Shopping According to US Millennial Internet Users, by Product Category, Feb 2013 (% of total)

Discounts are key to millennials’ digital shopping. Sixty-five percent of males and 55% of females said they shopped on eBay, a site whose primary function is auctioning items at a discount. More than half of young women also used Facebook or Twitter to get notifications of upcoming sales or specials, and 44% of young men did the same.

With digital shopping an ingrained behavior for most millennials—whether they research or buy on the web—online retail stores and comparison shopping sites will continue to be critical stops in their path to purchase.

Corporate subscribers have access to all eMarketer analyst reports, articles, data and more. Join the over 750 companies already benefiting from eMarketer’s approach. Learn more.


  • Go beyond the articles:

    eMarketer Products

    You've never experienced research like this.

  • Hear from our clients:

    Customer Stories

    Nearly all Fortune 500 companies rely on us.

  • Want to learn more?

    Contact Us

    Inquire about corporate subscriptions today.