As Australia prepares to hit its 70 per cent nationwide double vaccination milestone, a new study from Afterpay reveals how Gen Z and Millennials are ready to Press Play on their lives, after 9 in 10 (88 per cent) missed key life events through lockdowns.
From hitting restaurants, cafés and pubs and jetting off overseas, to starting new careers and finding love, the Afterpay Lockdown Liberation is a comprehensive study that uncovers the mindset and behaviours of young Australians over the last 20 months as well as their hopes, dreams and fears as we enter a restrictions-free future.
What’s first? After being stuck inside for several months, Gen Z and Millennial Aussies are celebrating by dining (and drinking) out, with half (49 per cent) looking forward to getting boujee at a restaurant and café, while a third (36 per cent) will be hitting up the pub.
In-store shopping (42 per cent) is also high on the agenda, as well as personal care appointments (34 per cent), as they adjust to life outside of lounge and activewear. The back-at-it list The Next Gen are also setting sights on getting back to paused experiences, with travelling overseas and holidaying remaining on the 2022 bucket list for almost half (45 per cent).
Music gigs and festivals (47 per cent) are other top choices that young Aussies can’t wait to dive back into, followed by sporting events (35 per cent), the theatre (32 per cent) and big cultural events like Mardi Gras (33 per cent).
While more than 1 in 10 (15 per cent) can’t wait for a good, old-fashioned pub quiz! Love in lockdown Perhaps the hardest part of lockdown for many single Next Gen Aussies has been the barriers to finding love and starting new relationships.
Post-lockdown, young Aussies are getting their “swipe” on by prioritising dating more (26 per cent) in hopes to find the love of their life (23 per cent), while 1 in 5 (20 per cent) are looking to date more casually. New career, who this? Work – and working from home – has been tricky for most Aussies over the last 20 months, with 1 in 5 (22 per cent) saying that the pandemic delayed their search for a new job.
For many the pandemic has been an eye-opening experience, with more than half (55 per cent) of Next Gen Aussies realising they want to change careers, and a third (32 per cent) learning they need more work-life balance.
Despite the turbulent times, over half (52 per cent) of Next Gen Aussies reached their savings goal during the pandemic, with 4 in 5 (82 per cent) becoming more conscious of their finances since COVID-19 and 18 per cent started to budget for the first time.
Mental health has become a priority for the majority (82 per cent) of Gen Z and Millennial Aussies, who have become more aware of their own mental health since March 2020, while almost half (45 per cent) believe placing more importance on their own mental health has been their biggest lesson over the last 20 months.
Sabina Read, psychologist and social commentator, unpacked how the trends reflect our outlook for the future.
“Over the last 20 months Australians have been under an enormous amount of pressure due to COVID-19 and the uncertainty it brought, from not being able to see friends and family, to work and money stresses and having to literally put our lives on hold,” she said.
“With all Australians looking forward to being reunited with family and friends once more, it’s no surprise that Next Gen Aussies are focusing on those aspects of life that feel the most normal; dining out, live entertainment and travel. While it’s important to look forward, it’s essential we take stock of the lessons we learnt around mental health and work-life balance into the future to help shape a healthier and happier future for all Australians.”
Katrina Konstas, EVP, country manager at Afterpay said, “With cities around Australia set to open up again in the coming weeks, we commissioned this new study to determine how Next Gen Australians are going to kickstart their lives again and reset their goals and ambitions for 2022 without restrictions.
“The Afterpay Lockdown Liberation Study highlights those aspects of life that Aussies have missed the most, the parts we haven’t missed, and the changes that we would like to keep moving forward, providing a clear indication of what Aussies would like the ‘new normal’ to look like as they press play on their lives.”
Further key findings include:
- Lockdown hobbies: During isolation, over a third tried out a new exercise routine (36 per cent) or took up DIY around the house (34 per cent), while almost a quarter (24 per cent) learnt a new skill such as a language
- 2022 Me: 1 in 5 (22 per cent) Gen Z and Millennial Aussies are looking forward to focusing on themselves and smashing goals they weren’t able to due to lockdowns
- Post-Covid worries: Almost half (49 per cent) are worried the world will never return to the way it was, while 1 in 5 (22 per cent) are worried about the pressures of keeping up with social commitments as restrictions ease
- Office politics: A quarter (24 per cent) of Next Gen Aussies believe their ideal working situation is being in the workplace fulltime, with over half (53 per cent) admitting they have missed seeing their colleagues more than they expected.
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