How Are Teens Spending Money?

October 19, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Brand-Related | Demographics & Audiences | Food & Restaurants | Industries | Retail & E-Commerce | Teens & Younger | Top Brands

Teens in the US dedicate around 40% of their spending to clothing, accessories and footwear, with another fifth going to food, according to the latest biannual Taking Stock With Teens survey from Piper Jaffray. Both average-income and upper-income teens allocate 60% of their spend to apparel/accessories/shoes and food, with upper-income teens skewing slightly more towards food spending.

For upper-income teens, the largest share of wallet goes to the “social budget” (food, video games, music, movies, events and books), which accounts for 41% of spending. Close behind, 38% of spend goes to the “selfie budget” – for items such as clothing, accessories, personal care, and shoes. Basic needs such as electronics and cars occupy 21% of the overall budget.

Male teens tend to spend more on social than selfie budgets, while for female teens the selfie budget takes precedence.

Food vs. Clothing

In comparing spending strictly on clothing (excluding accessories and shoes) with spending on food, the report shows that teens’ spending has trended more towards restaurants in recent years.

There are some differences in teen spend on a gender basis, per the report. Males spend a larger share of their wallets on food (22%) than clothing (17%), while the opposite is true for women (22% and 24%, respectively).

As for trends within the restaurant industry, this latest edition of the survey shows that limited-service establishments continue to be preferred to full-service brands. That represents a transition from 2009 and 2010, when full-service restaurants were the preferred type.

Starbucks remains the preferred restaurant brand for both upper-income and average-income teens, as it has for most iterations of the survey this decade.

Where Are Teens Spending?

There’s been a strong shift in teens’ channel preferences away from department and specialty stores to online only e-retailers in Piper Jaffray’s survey. That’s not necessarily backed by other data suggesting that in-store shopping is the preference for Gen Z.

Still, there’s a clear leader in e-commerce destinations: the omni-present Amazon. An impressive 49% of upper-income teens say that Amazon is their favorite website to purchase from. Nike – while being the preferred overall clothing brand, athletic clothing brand and footwear brand – is a very distant second, cited by 6%.

About the Data: The report is based on a survey of 6,100 teens with an average age of 15.9. Some 54% of respondents are male, and the sample’s average household income is $66,100.

Among respondents, 1,500 qualify as upper-income, with an average household income almost double that of average-income respondents ($101k and $55k, respectively).


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