Athletic brands such as Canadian yogawear retailer Lululemon and sportswear giants NIKE and adidas continue to dominate teen fashion preferences in the US as casualisation of fashion continues, despite teen spend falling to the lowest levels in nine years amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Overall teen “self-reported” spending tumbled 13% year-on-year and 4% sequentially to US$2,300 – the lowest level since autumn of 2011, according to Piper Sandler’s 39th semi-annual ‘Taking Stock With Teens’ research survey. The results highlight spending trends and brand preferences amongst 5,200 teens across 41 US states.

Piper Sandler says Generation Z consumers – those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s – contribute about US$830bn to US retail sales annually. The demographic is the first digitally native group to grow up not knowing a world before cellular phones, smartphones, and other digital devices.

While food continues to be teen’s top spending category at 25% of wallet share, up from 23% in autumn of 2019, athletic brands continue to prove popular.

Canadian yogawear retailer Lululemon, in particular, hit its highest level in survey history, taking sixth place as teens’ preferred clothing brand.

Nike, meanwhile, gained share within its number one spot, as the US sportswear giant again topped both the clothing and footwear rankings.

American Eagle, Adidas, Hollister, and Pac Sun made up the other spots in the top five clothing brands ranking, while Vans, Adidas, Converse, and Foot Locker were named the top five preferred footwear brands.  Crocs also gained notable share as the seventh preferred footwear brand, behind Birkenstock.

Elsewhere, teens named the environment as the social/political issue top of mind, while coronavirus took the second spot. 

The survey, which was conducted from 17 February to 27 March, was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic with several teens taking it while quarantined at home – most notably during the last three weeks of the survey. Piper Sandler noted lower responses from the Northeast – the part of the US which has suffered the most from Covid-19.

“Our spring teen survey was conducted during a time of significant upheaval as the world (and US teens) grappled with the realities of Covid-19. In fact, we believe the majority of our responses came from teens taking the survey from their own homes. Not only was ‘Coronavirus’ listed as the No. 2 social/political concern among teens, but we saw a significant uptick of teens worried about the economy along with a corresponding 13% drop in ‘self-reported’ spending versus just last year,” said Erinn Murphy, Piper Sandler senior research analyst.

“As it relates to brand preferences, we continue to see casualisation of fashion march higher—Nike gained share as the No. 1 brand and Lululemon hit a new survey high as the No. 6 preferred brand.”