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Teens’ spending drops to lowest rate in 8 years

Chick-fil-A remains the top brand among young consumers, according to a semiannual Piper Jaffray survey.
Photograph courtesy of Chick-fil-A

Teenagers, increasingly concerned about the state of the economy, have cut back on their spending this year, according to Piper Jaffray’s semiannual survey of young consumers’ brand preferences and discretionary spending.

Teens self-reported that their spending decreased 4% year over year, to $2,400, in Piper’s Taking Stock With Teens survey of 9,500 teens across 42 states. The spending rate was the lowest level of reported spending since 2011.

Meanwhile, 32% of teens in the survey said that the economy is getting worse, up from 25% in the fall of 2018.

Food is a major spending category for teens—it’s the top spending category for males in the survey, according to Piper. Teens’ concerns about the economy and their own reduced spending could have implications for a restaurant industry that works heavily to attract their business.

Teens’ favorite restaurant brand was Chick-fil-A, favored by 18% of teens in the survey. The Atlanta-based chicken sandwich chain has been the top choice among teens for four straight surveys.

Coffee giant Starbucks was second at 11%, followed by Chipotle Mexican Grill (6%), McDonald’s (5%) and Dunkin’ (4%).

The survey featured teens with an average age of 15.8. They are members of the increasingly influential Generation Z group, which contributes $830 billion to U.S. retail sales every year, according to Piper.

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