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Teen spending shifts to off-price; Nike, Sephora among fave brands

teen spending
Nike is teens' favorite footwear and apparel brand.

Adult consumers aren’t the only ones watching their spending.

Teens' “self-reported” spending was down 1% year-over-year to $2,316, according to investment bank Piper Sandler Companies' 46th semi-annual “Taking Stock With Teens” survey in partnership with DECA. Not all categories were down, however, as cosmetic spending soared 33% year-over year in cosmetics. (The fall 2023 survey was conducted from Sept. 4 to 27.)

In other findings, Nike maintains its position as teens’ favorite brand in footwear and apparel for the 12th year, with 61% and 35% mindshares respectively. After Nike, teens’ second favorite footwear brand was Converse (9%), followed by Adidas (7%).

Lululemon ranked as teens’ second (6%) favorite clothing brand after Nike, followed by American Eagle (4%). Shein and Pacsun rounded out the top five, each at 3%.

Also in the spring survey, Sephora (37%) surpassed Ulta Beauty (32%) to become the number one preferred beauty shopping destination. Target ranked third (8%), followed by Walmart and Amazon (both at 5%).

Since the fall 2022 survey, shopping channel preferences among teens have shifted to off-price (up 545 bps year-over-year) and online only e-tailers (up 121 bps year-over-year). At the same time,  preferences moved way from specialty (down 162 bps year-over-year), discount (down 440 bps year-over-year) and outlet (down 81 bps.)

Amazon ranked as teen's favorite (59%) online shopping site of choice, with Shein (7%) a distant second. 

Other highlights from the fall teen survey are below.

•Chick-fil-A remains the highest ranked restaurant at a 16% share, followed by Starbucks (13%), and McDonald’s (9%).

The core beauty wallet (cosmetics, skincare and fragrance) stood at $324/year, led by cosmetics up 33% year-over-year.

•Teens are spending 4% less on clothing — down to $563 per year — compared to last year. Females are outspending males by about $180,

•The iPhone continues to reign as 87% of teens own one and 88% expect the iPhone to be their next mobile device.

•TikTok improved by 80 bps compared to spring 2023 as the favorite social platform among teens. Snap ranked second, followed by Instagram.

•Mobile devices remains the No. 1 preferred method for customer service interactions (50% share). Text/SMS had the best multi-year gains.

•e.l.f. Beauty remains the top cosmetics brand, increasing 13 points year-over-year to 29% for female teens.

•The environment ranked as the social cause teens most care about, with an 18% mindshare, followed by inflation (9%) and racial equality (7%).

“Our survey points to initial signs of a slowdown in teen spending,” said Edward Yruma, senior research analyst, Piper Sandler. “Inflation reached its highest mindshare in terms of political and social issues, right behind the environment.”

Piper Sandler's "Taking Stock With Teens" survey is a semi-annual research project that gathers input from 9,193 teens with an average age of 15.7 years. Discretionary spending patterns, fashion trends, technology, and brand and media preferences are assessed through surveying a geographically diverse subset of high schools across the U.S.

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