Up to this point, digitally-savvy millennials have propelled much of the growth in online spending. Yet a new report suggests that as the group's influence spreads, a broader majority of shoppers could be on the verge of mimicking their habits, thereby fueling a sustained period of online sales growth.
According to the research, released Thursday by Goldman Sachs, older millennials (ages 25 to 34) are more likely than any other generation to spend most of their clothing budget online. Separate data collected by the firm over time has found the online spending habits of 35- to 44-year-olds have lagged this group by about one to two years, with those between ages 45 and 54 straggling another two or three years.
Given that Goldman pegs the acceleration in millennials' digital adoption to late 2014, the firm predicts that U.S. apparel and accessories sales growth will increase by a steady 20 percent over the next four years. That compares to gains of less than 10 percent just six years ago.
"This means an additional $50 billion of sales will migrate online over the next four years, a revenue base equivalent to apparel and accessories sales for Macy's, Nordstrom and Kohl's in all channels combined," the report said. "At that rate, online penetration of the apparel and accessories category will reach 25 percent in four years, with further adoption across the age and income spectrum."
Goldman's report comes one day after a separate study by UPS and comScore found that for the first time in its five-year history, "avid" online shoppers — who make two or more purchases online in a typical three-month period — completed more than half of their purchases on the web during that timeframe.