Rental generation sees no point in buying
Confronting a jobless rate above 8 percent since 2009 and grappling to pay off student loans worth about $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 20-to-34-year-olds are renting apartments, cars, and even clothing to save money and stay flexible.
“This is a generation that is scared of commitment, wants to be light on their feet, and needs to adjust to whatever happens,” says Cliff Zukin, a professor of public policy and political science at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who has researched the effects of the recession on recent college graduates. “To a modern generation, ownership isn’t about having it forever, it is about having it when you need to have it”, says Paco Underhill, founder of a consumer behavior research and consulting firm.
Enterprise and Hertz are expanding in what the Santa Monica (Calif.)-based research firm IBISWorld estimates to be the $1.8 billion hourly-car-rental business, a segment dominated by Zipcar. Startups such a Rent the Runway are supplying high-fashion apparel to satisfy those who want to wear, not own. Cort, a unit of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is increasing its marketing efforts to rent furniture to college students and fledging households, says Mark Koepsell, a senior vice president at Cort.