October 15, 2014: Singles
Steve King at Small Business Labs (part of Emergent Research) recently called my attention to a new demographictrend: “For the first time since the government started keeping these stats, more than half of adult Americans (about 125 million) are single.” Bloomberg Businessweek says there are economic implications to the story as well, since singles (especially younger ones) are more likely to rent than own their homes and in general either don’t yet have kids, or the ones they have are now adults.
A report from Pew Research says the share of U.S. adults “who have never been married is at an historic high.” In 2012, 20 percent of adults aged 25 and older (about 42 million people) had never been married, compared to 9 percent in 1960.
Among the young, one key reason people are staying single longer is the struggling economy. More than one-third of never-married 25-to-34-year-olds cite “financial security” as a factor in their marital status.
It’s also important to note that just because someone is single doesn’t mean they’re living alone. Last year, Pew reported, about 24 percent of those young never-marrieds lived with a partner.
What does all this mean for entrepreneurs? Consider how friendly your business is to single people. This is especially important for restaurants, where tables for one are often hidden in dark corners and single diners get less-than-stellar service. If you sell food, offer smaller (not Costco-size) packages.
Of course, as the economy strengthens, much of this might change. Demographically, we’re headed into an era when many of the Millennials will turn the average age at which Americans get married (age 27 for women, 29 for men).
But if you sell home décor, kitchen goods or furniture, you’ll want to make sure you have merchandise that is suitably sized for both homes and apartment living. And don’t assume those apartment dwellers are looking for cheap fill-in pieces until they get married.