Survey: Overall teen spending plunges — except for food; fave online brand is…

Marianne Wilson
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man eating pizza near laptop using mobile phone

The nation’s teens have cut back their spending amid the COVID-19 outbreak with one noticeable exception: food.

Food continues to be teens’ No. 1 overall spending category, at 25% of wallet share, which is up from 23% in fall 2019,  according to Piper Sandler Cos.’s 39th semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens”  survey, which polled some 5,200 teens nationwide between Feb. 17 and March 27. Food accounts for the largest share of males’ budgets, the survey found, and is a very close second for females, behind apparel. Chick-fil-A retained its top spot as teens’ favorite restaurant brand, followed by Starbucks. Other favorite brands: Chipotle, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. 

While apparel spending still accounts for the largest wallet share of female teens, it was down 14% from last year. Footwear spending fell 5% from last year. But the biggest drop was in cosmetics spending, which fell 26% year-to-year to $103 a year, a 10-year low for the category.

On an overall basis, annual spending by teens was down 13% in the spring survey, at $2,300 in the spring survey — the lowest spending level reported by teens since fall 2011 —  and down 4% from fall 2019.

Other survey highlights are below:

• Amazon was the top online shopping destination (53%), followed by Nike (5%), Urban Outfitters (2%) and Lululemon (2%).

• Nike remains the top clothing brand (25%), followed by American Eagle )10%), adidas (5%), Hollister (4%), and PacSun (3%). 

• Nike was the top footwear brand (47%), followed by Vans (20%), adidas (11%); Converse (4%) Foot Locker (3%).

• Ulta maintained No. 1 preferred beauty destination (39%), followed by Sephora (24%), Target and Walmart (both at 8%) and Amazon (4%).

• Instagram was the most used social platform (85%), followed by Snapchapt (62%), TikToc (62%), Twitter (41%) and Facebook (34%).

• Teens care about social/political issues naming the environment as No. 1; followed by COVID-19.