How serious is inflation over the last six months? Let’s put it this way: even teenagers are watching their dollars. Gen Z spending declined ever so slightly in investment bank Piper Sandler Companies’ 46th semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens survey, in partnership with education global high-school-student network DECA.
The decline was a paltry 1 percent, but it’s the first time that figure has gone down since before the pandemic—suggesting that inflation is reeling spending in for all age groups; if teens are watching their wallets, things aren’t looking too good as we head further into the biggest spending quarter of the year.
Fall 2023 key findings:
- Teen “self-reported” spending was down 1 percent Y/Y to $2,316. A spending decrease has not been seen from this survey since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- e.l.f. Beauty, Inc. remains the top cosmetics brand, increasing 13 points Y/Y to 29 percent for female teens.
- NIKE, Inc. maintains its position as the number one favorite brand among teens in both apparel and footwear, with 35 percent and 61 percent mindshare respectively.
- Chick-fil-A, Inc. stays the highest ranked restaurant at 16 percent share.
- Inflation is now the number two social concern, coming in at 9 percent among teens.
“Our survey points to initial signs of a slowdown in teen spending. Inflation reached its highest mindshare in terms of political and social issues, right behind the environment,” said Edward Yruma, senior research analyst at Piper Sandler Companies, in a news release.
Spending overview—and the brands earning teen dollars
Males led in spending as NIKE, lululemon athletica and American Eagle Outfitters rank among the top clothing brands for teens. Female spending was down overall with specific decreases across apparel and shoes but counteracted with strength in accessories spending.
The core beauty wallet (cosmetics, skincare and fragrance) stood at $324/year with cosmetics leading at +33 percent YoY. Sephora showed impressive gains, surpassing Ulta Beauty, and becoming the number one preferred beauty shopping destination with a loyalty membership of 67 percent.
The iPhone continues to reign as 87 percent of teens own one and 88 percent 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, along with Snap ranking second and Instagram ranking third.
The 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. Since the project began in 2001, Piper Sandler has surveyed more than 248,283 teens and collected over 60.7 million data points on teen spending.
The fall 2023 survey of 9,193 teens was conducted from September 4 to September 27. Piper Sandler equity research has more than 60 million data points around teen preferences and spending in the 22 plus years of researching teens.