For several years we’ve been reporting on the teen buying habits study from investment bank Piper Sandler. This is the 40th semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens® survey in partnership with DECA. The teens surveyed averaged 15.8 years old. Why should small business owners care about teenagers? Because they contribute about $830 billion to annual U.S. retail sales.

There’s no question, says Piper Sandler, that the Fall 2020 survey was “impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Overall teen spending is down, which Piper Sandler says is “not surprising,” but there are shifting  “wallet share priorities.”

Teens are spending more on video games and furniture/room accessories and less on food and concerts and events.

If you know a teen, you know social media is central to their lives. Snapchat is their preferred social media platform, with TikTok coming in second. Surprising to some is the rising popularity of Pinterest among the teen set. Watching Netflix accounts for 34% of their daily video consumption, followed by YouTube

One thing that hasn’t changed is Gen Z’s commitment to social justice. Racial Equality/Black Lives Matter and the environment are their top issues. The report says teens, thinking about the environment, are buying more second-hand clothes and spending time “thrifting”. Piper Sandler calls out this trend as one to key on eye on in the future.

Key Findings

Spending & Shopping Behavior

  • While their spending on food is down, it still accounts for the top wallet share.
  • Amazon is still their number-one online shopping channel.
  • For the first time ever, teen girls spent more on skincare than cosmetics (mimicking the overall market). Skincare spending for teen girls was only down 3%, while skincare for teen boys was up 12%.
  • 84% of teen girls follow influencers to discover new beauty brands and trends
  • Video games hold 10% of total teen wallet share—a new survey high


Teens stock photo by Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock