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Gen Z and millennial shoppers are swapping handbags for fanny packs and totes

Sawdah Bhaimiya   

Gen Z and millennial shoppers are swapping handbags for fanny packs and totes
  • Gen Z and millennial shoppers are ditching handbags for fanny packs and tote backs.
  • The pandemic made remote working a norm and this popularized casual wear for various occasions.

Younger shoppers are shaking up the estimated $8.8 billion handbag market in the US by ditching traditional bags for more low-key items such as fanny packs and totes – partly reflecting the rise of casual wear since the pandemic.

According to new data from consumer behavior analysis firm Circana – which tracks the online and in-store purchases of 150,000 US consumers – Gen Z and millennial consumers aged between 18 and 34 are buying fewer handbags than older shoppers.

Sales of handbags declined by 2% between April 2022 and April 2023 among this age group but rose 7% among consumers aged over 35, per Circana.

Although the younger cohort was responsible for an overall decline in the handbag market, sales were up by 56% for fanny, waist, and chest packs; 11% for tote bags, and 7% for everyday backpacks across this group.

"Millennials and Gen Z are seeking both function and fashion, as they embark on their daily activities, special events, and travel, so they are looking for products that provide ease and convenience," Beth Goldstein, footwear and accessories analyst at Circana said in a press release announcing the data.

"Versatile, hands-free options, including backpacks and fanny packs, have proven to be very desirable," she added.

The popularity of these bags may is partly been driven by a shift away from more formal attire to casual dressing, a movement that was exacerbated by the pandemic and work-from-home culture.

Fanny packs have had a comeback in recent years among younger generations because they're small enough to hold essential items when going clubbing or to a festival.

A $20 Uniqlo shoulder bag was named the hottest product of 2023 and gripped TikTok users with 94.2 million views so far, because of its minimalist but spacious design.


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