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Teen Spending Falls to Lowest Point in Decades Amid Lower Spending, Heightened Economic Concerns

  • Spending among teenagers in the United States falls 9 percent from 2019 to its lowest point in two decades
  • Apparel expenditures see a pronounced drop, with food spending falling as well
  • More teenagers express reticence about the economy

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have reigned in their spending due to the closure of restaurants and other businesses, unwillingness to venture out and encounter health risks, uncertainty about one’s job security, and other factors. A similar trend has affected spending by U.S. teenagers, which has fallen to its lowest point in two decades.

According to the biannual “Taking Stock With Teens” report from the investment bank Piper Sandler, teenagers reported spending about $2,150 this year. This figure is down 9 percent from the previous year and well below a peak of $3,023 in the spring of 2006. Spending on apparel was considerably reduced, down 11 percent on an annual basis.

Food spending also fell, but remained the top expenditure among males, followed by video games and clothing. Women spent the most money on clothing, followed by food and personal care. Only one-third of teenagers in the study said they had shopped at department stores and specialty retail stores, compared to 90 percent who reported shopping online.

The more uncertain economy seemed to play a role in the trend, with teens showing more concern that they or their parents might lose their job. Forty-eight percent worried about a worsening economy, compared to 32 percent the year before.


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