Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Is it the Waltons?

I'm probably showing my age when I refer to the Waltons TV show. As a kid, it was one of the shows on CBS, we used to watch that featured three generations all living under one roof.

Looks like we may be returning to that lifestyle:

KIDS LIVING WITH PARENTS LONGER, CHANGING SHOPPING PATTERNS Retailers beware. There is a new threat to your livelihoods from young people who are living longer with their parents and not exercising their rights to consume. Reports in both The Guardian in the UK and The Washington Post explain some of the causes and effects.

The British report cites a study from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) finding that "many young adults in their mid-20s and early 30s, and especially men, are increasingly postponing the transition to adulthood." Blaming it partially on the housing and job markets, the organization also found that many simply choose to remain at home with their families. A new term - kippers (kids in parents' pockets) - apparently refers to those who stay through choice.

Although British youngsters used to fly the nest sooner than those from other European countries, new figures "show that 25 percent of men aged 25 to 29 now live with their parents...almost double the proportion of women in their late 20s (13 percent) who still live at home."

Unemployment and student debt are amongst factors convincing recent graduates to return to their parents rather than attempt to fend for themselves. Those who haven't gone to university are finding job and income prospects extremely limited.

A recent article in Population Trends by researchers from Southampton University explains that "many more advantaged young adults appear not ready to settle down during their 20s and are likely to return to the parental home," at least until they find a long term partner with whom to set up their own home.

For Melissa Meyer, the young woman on whom The Washington Post focuses, failure to find a well-paying job has created unintended consequences. "She has invented a dozen ways to say those words - 'I don't know'" about her future. Instead, like many of her friends, she is planning to spend time traveling and taking up short-term opportunities. As one says, "the economy is almost convenient in a sick way, because everybody is off on adventures. It's an excuse to do whatever you want." Often "hanging out" in parents' homes while they do it.

[Author's commentary] Unintended consequences from these kippers (or boomerang children, as they are also known by researchers) may have an impact on retailers. With young adults delaying their purchases of products for their homes - as well food and CPG needs met by parents - market size may be a concern for some time to come.

Source: Retailwire.com, 12/14/2009 How You Can Make Money: Mel Kleiman, President, Humetrics commented, “Less earnings but more disposable income. If they have it, they will spend it. That is all this new generation knows. They will still eat and entertain and travel. But they will not be buying clothes to go to the office, or furniture, or appliances. So electronics, clubs, and athletic goods are some of the areas that will gain from this trend.”

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