Teens spending hits 20-year-low as spending priorities change

Marianne Wilson
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Teens are spending less on clothing, food and events, and more on video games, furniture and room accessories amid the pandemic.

That’s according to Piper Sandler’s 40th semi-annual “Taking Stock with Teens” fall survey in which teens “self-reported” spending fell to $2,150. It’s the lowest total in the survey’s history and represents a drop of 9% year-over-year and 5% from Pipe Sandler’s spring survey. (Reported annual spending by teens peaked at about $3,023 in 2006.) 

Even though spending on food contracted, it remains teens’ No. 1 spending priority. Males devote the most, or 21%, of their spending to food, followed by video games and clothing. Females devote the most, or 27%, of their spending clothing, followed by food and personal care. Chick-fil-A remains teens’ top restaurant destination, at 21%, followed by Starbucks, 10%, and Chipotle, 9%.  

Piper Sandler surveyed 9,800 teens with an average age just under 16 from 48 states, and with an average household income of $67,500. The survey was conducted between Aug. 19 and Sept. 22. The highest amount of responses came from the South at 42% of the mix and 10% of the responses were from the Northeast — similar to the spring 2020 survey. Thirty-three percent have part-time jobs. 

Apparel spending came in at $507 per teen per year, down 11% from the fall. Nike retained its longstanding top spot as teens’ favorite apparel brand, followed by American Eagle and Adidas. Other top brands included Lululemon. Nike was also teens’ favorite footwear brand, followed by Vans and Adidas.  

Other survey findings are below.
•    Amazon remains teens’ No. 1 preferred online shopping mindshare at 54% but SHEIN takes No. 2 spot for the first time (ahead of Nike).
•    Skincare spending eclipses cosmetics spending for the first time ever among females.
•    Eighty-four percent of female teens rely on influencers as a source of discovery for beauty brands & trends.
*Ulta maintains the No. 1 preferred beauty destination against Sephora for the fourth survey in a row.
•    Teens spend 34% of their daily video consumption on Netflix, followed by YouTube.
•    Eighty-six percent of teens own an iPhone and 89% expect an iPhone to be their next phone, both new all-time survey highs.