The combination of a down economy, the pandemic and election uncertainty are causing the youngest consumers, Generations Y and Z to be pulling back on spending. That does not bode well for retailers in the run-up to the holiday season.

Bloomberg news announced in September that the U.S. unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, more than double what it was last year. But among those ages 16 to 24 that straddle Generations Y and Z, the unemployment rate is a staggering 13.5 percent, according to data from the Labor Department released last week.  

A new Piper Sandler survey suggests that teen spending hit its lowest levels in two decades. While it is hardly surprising that they spent less on food and events during the coronavirus pandemic, even apparel spending was down 11% from last fall. And there is plenty of reason to suggest things could get worse among our youngest spending cohorts. This is particularly troubling given that it was younger spenders that powered the economy out of the 2008 recession.   

Easing the Pay Pain

Retailers are working overtime to reengage the Generation Z demographic, which still wants to touch and feel the goods. Eighty-one percent of this cohort group prefer the instore experience, according to buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) leader Afterpay. As a result, retailers and the fast-growing BNPL industry are mounting a multifront, seasonal attack aimed at this valuable consumer, on and offline.

Two major announcements hit the wires on October 6th introducing new relationships between two major BNPL players with a couple retail powerhouses. First, Australian based Afterpay which claims 10 million active users globally, announced a partnership with Simon Property Group to promote in-store shopping ahead