Teen Spending Plummets To A 20-Year Low

A new survey revealed teenagers spent less money on food, events and concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic amid fear of a worsening economy.

CNBC reported teen expenditure dropped to its lowest level in 20 years, according to Piper Jaffray’s 40th biannual “Taking Stock with Teens” report.

The nationwide survey of 9,800 consumers conducted between Aug. 19 and Sept. 22 with an average age just under 16 years old and an average household income of $67,500, found teens reported spending about $2,150 this year.

That’s a 9 percent year-over-year decline. Annual spending by teens peaked in 2006 at $3,023, the survey said.

One of the things teens are not buying this year is apparel as spending averaged $507 per teen per year, a dip of 11 percent from last. Girls are spending about $160 more on clothes than boys, researchers found.

Handbag purchases were especially hard hit as spending bottomed out at $87, a record low. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a French conglomerate specializing in luxury goods, bested Michael Kors for the top spot.

Spending on purses and bags peaked in the spring of 2006, as teens said they spent $197 annually on the category, the survey said.

Nike has maintained the No. 1 spot among teens for clothing apparel; American Eagle came in second, Adidas followed.  Lululemon moved up to No. 6 from No. 7 a year ago, with leggings and sports bras gaining in popularity. H&M also moved up, while Forever 21 dropped on the list.

Teen spending has been on the decline long before the coronavirus brought the economy to a virtual halt.

One year ago, Piper Jaffray researchers found that American teens spent $2,371 per year,  the lowest level for the age group since the fall of 2011. The data, gathered from 9,500 teens across 42 U.S. states, with an average age of 15.8 years, found nearly one-third of teens said they believe the economy is getting worse, up from the 25 percent reported in the fall of 2018. That belief has led them to be more cautious with their spending.

One year ago, girls spend most of their money on clothing, with many preferring athletic brands over designers such as Sperry, Ralph Lauren and Vineyard Vines. Accessories spending hit a record low, while cosmetics spending fell 20 percent over 2018, the lowest levels in more than nine years. When they do shop for makeup, 91 percent of female teens prefer to do so in a store rather than online. Ulta Beauty is still the preferred beauty destination against Sephora for the second survey in a row.