Dates, Birthdays and 90s Fashion: Gen Z and Millennials Turn to Buy Now Pay Later for Post-Pandemic Summer Purchases

SAN JOSE, Calif., June 28, 2021 - PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL) today released new research exploring the shift in post-pandemic consumer spending among Gen Z and Millennials as they start shopping for summer activities. With 60% of respondents excited and happy to return to in-person gatherings, the study found consumers are making purchases with specific events in mind as 39% buy for birthdays, 25% for travel and 21% for going on dates.

However, as 41% of consumers delayed purchases during the pandemic1 and 58% experiencing a reduced household income2, the need to shop for summer activities while managing budgets is top of mind. In fact, 60% of Gen Z and Millennials are rethinking what items they need and how they plan to pay for them. This post-pandemic mindset is leading consumers to try Buy Now Pay Later payment offerings, with 57% feeling it’s a smarter way to shop.

BNPL infographic

“The return to gatherings and events is giving consumers more inspiration and reason to shop, while at the same time they are paying close attention to spending and finances,” said Jill Cress, VP Consumer Marketing at PayPal. “Gen Z and Millennials are fast adopting products like Pay in 4 from PayPal to update wardrobes and plan vacations as it provides a flexible payment option that complements their post-pandemic lifestyle and mindset.”

This summer, Gen Z and Millennials plan to use Buy Now Pay Later for:

  • Travel (33%)
  • Electronics (30%)
  • Fashion (21%)
  • Beauty (20%)

Nostalgic Fashion Makes a Comeback

The research also found consumers are bringing nostalgic and comfort-looks to their summer events. 39% of Gen Z and Millennial women plan to shop for crop tops, 32% for ‘90s nostalgia looks and 25% for ‘90s hair accessories. And transitionwear is helping consumers emerge from quarantine as they opt for casual comfort. Fifty-one percent of women are shopping for casual footwear and 21% for athleisure, while 40% of men are shopping for casual clothing and 41% for casual footwear.

Self-Care and New Interests Inspire Purchases

Making up for lost time, 39% of Gen Z and Millennials are summer shopping as they plan to attend events, 35% for new hobbies, while 34% are buying items for self-care as they look to lift their spirits.  

Financial Awareness is Trending

The research also shows that 27% of respondents are reading more news and seeing more social media posts about personal finance, while 24% are impacted by friends and peers changing their spending habits.


Pay in 4 from PayPal allows shoppers to break purchases between $30-$1,500 into four interest-free payments3, providing a more flexible way to shop and pay for what they want and need. Research found 37% of Gen Z and Millennials find Buy Now Pay Later appealing as it gives them more control of their finances, while 39% say it makes budgeting easier. In addition, almost half of Millennial respondents (47%) are attracted to the option to make upfront purchases and pay over time in more manageable installments.


1 Deloitte October 2020 State of the Consumer Financial Spending Index

2 Honey September 2020 Online Shopping Report

About Pay in 4: Consumer late fee may apply for missed payments and varies by consumer’s state of residency. Loans to California residents are made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law License. PayPal, Inc. is a Georgia Installment Lender Licensee, NMLS #910457. More information at


About the study

PayPal commissioned Atomik Research to run an online survey of 2,007 Gen Z and Millennials (18-40) in the United States for their Pay in 4 survey. The margin of error fell within +/- 2 percentage points with a confidence interval of 95 percent. The fieldwork took place between May 28th and May 31st, 2021. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency.


About PayPal

PayPal has remained at the forefront of the digital payment revolution for more than 20 years. By leveraging technology to make financial services and commerce more convenient, affordable, and secure, the PayPal platform is empowering more than 375 million consumer and merchant accounts in more than 200 markets to join and thrive in the global economy. For more information, visit

For further information: Gideon Anstey
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