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JA Teens & Holiday Spending Reveals More than a Third of Teens Plan to Hit the Malls this Holiday Shopping Season


With the holiday season quickly approaching, there is bound to be stress-aplenty. Yet, this season also provides an opportunity for learning and growth for adults and children.

“Many young people have their first shopping experience during the holidays,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, President & CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “This provides an opportunity for teens to begin learning how to work within a budget and make financially informed decisions. It also creates a moment when parents can talk to their kids about managing money as part of day-to-day conversation.”

To give a better idea of the teenage mindset during the holiday season, Junior Achievement had the research firm Engine conduct a survey to reveal the decisions and budgets of teens in 2019. 

Shopping Retailers 

Traditional retailers may be getting a holiday gift from America’s teenagers this shopping season. The JA survey shows that more than a third of teens (35%) plan to make some of their holiday purchases at shopping malls this year. This, despite the ever-growing popularity of online shopping. 

The survey also found that a majority of teens (52%) plan to do much of their shopping at brick-and-mortar discount stores like Walmart and Target. The same percentage (52%) said that they would be doing much of their shopping online.

Budgets for Gifts 

The largest percentage of teens (37%) expect to spend less than $100 on holiday gifts, while about a fifth anticipate spending between $100 and $200 (21%). Far fewer (15%) think they will spend more than $200 on gifts. About a quarter (23%) either don’t know what they will spend or don’t anticipate buying presents.

Gift Ideas 

With the actual gift being the most challenging part to determine during the holiday season, here are what teens are planning on buying for loved ones this season: 

Clothing – 57% 

Gift cards – 49%

Video Games – 41%

Accessories, such as hats & shoes – 39%

Small Electronics – 35%

Toys – 30%

Jewelry – 27%

Music – 20%

Sporting Goods/ Apparel – 16%


This report presents the findings of a Youth CARAVAN survey conducted by Engine among a sample of 1,004 13-17-year olds, comprising of 502 males and 402 females. This survey was live on November 12-17, 2019. 

Respondents for this survey are selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options.

For more holiday insights, check out JA’s News Center for more research and news!

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