Christmas shoppers are expected to spend more for the ninth straight year thanks to a sharp increase in holiday purchases by young people, according to a new study.
The National Retail Federation found people in most age groups are likely to spend about the same as last year on holiday shopping. But nearly half of 18- to-24-year-olds said they'd be spending more this year than last, and 39 percent of 25- to-34-year-olds are likely to do the same.
That was the scene at Hamilton Place mall on Friday afternoon as cars filled with a tide of young buyers lined every inch of roadway, parking lot and piece of pavement drivers could find going to and from the area.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, we are seeing more millennial shoppers this year," said CBL & Associates spokeswoman Kim Lyons. "We've seen quite a few of them throughout the day at Hamilton Place."
National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay, in a news release, credited the uptick in spending by young shoppers to an increase in disposable income and purchasing power as millennials come of age.
Two of those young shoppers on Black Friday were friends, Alexis Smith, 22, and Haley Settles, 21, who spent some of their afternoon at Hamilton Place.
Settles said she will spend more than last year. She has a new job, is finishing college, and is getting married and buying a home this year.
"I have a new job that pays way better," Settles said. "I have a small family, but I'm shopping for things for our new house."
That's not the case with Smith, who is trying to better manage her money this season.
"I'm actually spending less, well, trying to spend less," she said.
One of the anchors of Black Friday shopping at Hamilton Place was H&M, a clothing store.
The Swedish store opened at the location earlier this month and was an instant hit with shoppers.
"H&M is the biggest store we've had open in the past year," Lyons said. " People were very excited about H&M, and of course they've offered some great deals throughout the store. I've seen a lot of people carrying H&M bags."
Last year, the holiday shopping season started with terror. A fight inside the mall spilled into the parking lot, where two men were shot. Since the incident, Hamilton Place added extra security throughout the year and continued working closely with the Chattanooga Police Department.
Now there are closed-circuit television cameras throughout and officers have been brought in for training to become familiar with the huge building in case of an incident.