Apparel accounts for more of US teens’ spending than any other category, but for most teens, shopping for clothes is still an in-person social activity that happens at brick-and-mortar stores.
According to research from Piper Jaffray, 20% of US teens’ spending went toward clothing as of spring 2011, with a further 8% spent on shoes and 11% on accessories and personal care items.
The leading influence on these purchases was friends—a constant for teens. The internet came in second, above other types of media, such as TV or movies.
There were demographic differences dividing girls and boys, however, when it came to influence. While friends were most important for all groups, boys said sports were No. 2, followed by the internet. Among girls, by contrast, the internet came third after magazines.
And while the internet may be a big influencer, it’s far from teens’ preferred shopping channel. About three in 10 teens said they liked shopping at specialty stores best, followed by shopping at major chains and discount stores. Just 11% of teens favored online shopping.
Boys and girls had somewhat different preferences among shopping channels. Among male teens, 15% chose online shopping as their favorite channel, compared to just 7% of female teens, who were more likely than males to prefer specialty, department and discount stores.
Among average-income teens, online shopping experienced only slight growth since fall 2010, although upper-income teens are taking to ecommerce in somewhat larger numbers. The Pew Internet & American Life Project has reported slow gains in the number of teens buying online, which overall reached 48% of teen internet users in 2009.
Several factors hinder teens from buying online, including lack of access to payment methods like credit cards. But for most teen girls, online shopping is simply not social enough for them to give up their trips to the mall.
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