The Millennial way to doing Christmas

When it comes to Christmas, Millennials and Baby Boomers have one thing in common: they let women do all the work.

New research by Shop The City consortium, which includes Melbourne Central, Emporium, QV, The Strand and GPO, shows that among those born between 1981 and 1996, more women (92 per cent) were buying gifts, putting up the Christmas tree (84 per cent) and decorating the home (78 per cent).

Conducted by market research company Bastion Latitude, the study analysed 1011 Millennials and their attitudes towards the festive season and how they liked to spend their money.

Nicole Rodriquez, 25, said she spent $150 on gifts this Christmas. Photo: Paul Jeffers

It showed, on average, Melburnians attend six parties to celebrate the season during November and December, spend up to $55 on outfits, $388 on gifts for others and $71 on gifts for themselves.

According to n Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman, from November 15 to December 24 Victorians spent $12.7 billion in total sales.

Melbourne Central marketing manager Melissa Polglase said they commissioned the research because Millennials made up 70 per cent of their customers.

“We just wanted to dig a bit deeper and see what the truth was behind the reputation that Millennials are fickle,” Ms Polglase said.

“We asked them some fun questions: ‘how many times have you had smashed avocado this year?’ Sixty per cent said they haven’t had a smashed avocado this year.

“It was also surprising that one in 10 don’t spend Christmas with their family.”

Men were less likely to select “spending time with family” as the most enjoyable part of Christmas (36 per cent) compared to women (45 per cent).

Illustration: Matt Golding

Men were also less enthused by Christmas than women, with one in three saying “Christmas is just another day”.

The research also found that 62 per cent of Millennials were stressed about the cost of Christmas financially, while 26 per cent had to borrow money to fund the festive season, with food, gifts and alcohol listed as the most costly things in December.

Shopper Nicole Rodriquez said she spent just $150 on gifts and $200 on herself, but the 25-year-old said she would never be in debt for Christmas.

Simon Bell, professor of marketing at the University of Melbourne, said Millennials were better at spending money on experiential opportunities like eating out at a restaurant.

“They don’t have much wealth … they have no savings and pretty flat income,” Professor Bell said.

“Boomers are incredibly wealthy and so the notion of borrowing money is an anathema to them. They just dip into savings.

“Generation X have also been fairly fiscally conservative … so they have savings as well.”

Professor Bell said the Millennials were the most mobile generation than any before them, but retired or divorced parents were more to be blamed for the youngsters spending Christmas away from the family.

“It is likely that they’ll have lived or worked interstate or overseas, so distance from family is something that generations prior haven’t had to experience at this time,” he said.

“Given they are experience seekers, they are as likely to value a Christmas in Bali as they will one at home.

“The traditional kind of anchor of the family home is no longer there. With increased divorce rates, the poor old Millennials are squeezed: ‘do I go to see mum in Noosa or dad in Fremantle?'”

But, when it came to gender roles of men and women, Millennials hadn’t changed that much from their parents.

“Social norms and high degree of socialisation around male and female roles in society … is reflected across generations,” Professor Bell said.

“It is easier due to strong social norms for the man to say, ‘nah, that’s not interesting to me’. [There is] social pressure for a woman to respond positively around family gift-giving, and gift purchases, food purchases.”