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Fall teen survey: Clothing top priority for first time since 2014; Nike No.1

Teen spending is starting to rebound after hitting a 20-year low last year.

Teen spending is starting to accelerate after plunging in 2020 during the pandemic.

Overall teen spending is up 6% year-over-year, according to Piper Sandler Cos.’ 42nd semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teenssurvey, which highlights spending trends and brand preferences from 10,000 teens nationwide with an average age of 15.8 years.  Clothing took the highest (22%) priority within the teen wallet since fall 2014, unseating food (21%).

“We saw a disproportionate gain in spending from upper-income females—with total fashion spending up 14% year over year,” said Erinn Murphy, Piper Sandler senior research analyst. “We believe apparel replenishment will continue into 2022 as the consumer continues to replenish.”

Within apparel, athletic is still the dominant trend with Nike and lululemon taking new highs, Murphy added.  Nike also reigns supreme in footwear, with Converse and Crocs gaining share while Vans slipped. Michael Kors took back its No. 1 ranking as a preferred handbag brand.

In a fall survey, conducted from August 17 to September 16, 96% of teens had returned to school in either a hybrid format or in-person while 4% remained fully virtual. It received the highest amount of responses from the South at 47% of the mix and 10% of the responses from the Northeast—similar to spring 2021 and fall 2020 surveys.

The survey found that resell is now second nature to teens. Sixty-two percent have sold second-hand and 51% have purchased second-hand.

Although teens have largely returned to school, they are also staying connected, estimating that they spend four hours a day on social media. Snapchat is the favorite social media platform (35% share) followed by TikTok (30%) and Instagram (22%, which was down year-over-year.

“While Amazon remains the No. 1 website, it did see mindshare slip year-over-year as female-centric websites like Shein are on the rise,” said Murphy.  

Here are other key findings from the fall survey:

  • Chick-Fil-A is the No. 1 restaurant for all teens. Starbucks remained No. 2, with Chipotle No. 3.
  • Eighty-seven percent of teens own an iPhone and 88% expect an iPhone to be their next phone. Apple is the No. 1 watch brand for first time.
  • Fifty-two percent of teens cite Amazon as their No. 1 favorite e-com site (down 200 basis points year over year). Shein took the No. 2 spot, with a 9% share and up 400 basis points year-over-year.
  • Teen “self-reported” spending improved to $2,274 – up 5% sequentially and 6% year-over-year (parent contribution was 61%).
  • Cash is still king for teens as the top payment method, followed by Apple Pay.
  • Paypal’s Venmo again ranked No. 1 with teens for payment apps, and its “Pay in 4” is teens’ top buy-now-pay- later offering.
  • Teens spend 32% of their daily video consumption on Netflix followed by YouTube (30%).
  • Nine percent of teens claim to have traded cryptocurrency; 78% of these teens are male.
  • Crocs, PacSun, Hey Dude, Zara, Shein and Gymshark are all fashion brands gaining share with teens, while Under Armour & Vans had mixed results.
  • Ulta ranked as teens’ No. 1 beauty destination with 46% share, followed by Sephora, with a 21% share.
  • Handbag spending improved to $96—up 10% year-over-year and up 3% sequentially.
  • Teens’ favorite celebrity is Adam Sandler and favorite influencer is Emma Chamberlain (unseating David Dobrik).
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