Shelby Holliday
December 5, 2013

Teens Talk Holiday Shopping


American teens have more than $200 billion in purchasing power, so it’s no surprise that retailers are looking to young spenders for a holiday boost.

So what are young people asking for this holiday season, and where are they spending their money? I’ve been talking to a bunch of teens to get the answers…


Even though Cyber Monday has gained popularity, a lot of young people still prefer going into physical stores. Believe it or not, teens and young adults actually make up the biggest percentage of in-store shoppers on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Why? Well first, shopping is a social event for young people. They get dropped off at the mall, they hang out with friends, and they cruise around in big groups. It’s almost like a bonding experience, even if they’re don’t spend a cent.

Shopping in stores also gives teens “immediate satisfaction” — they see something they want, and they take it home that very day.

“I don’t want to wait for something (to ship) that I want now,” 14-year-old Davion Smalls told me. I hear ya, dude.

Teens also told me that like to see if something looks good on them. You can’t tell how a product fits or feels by viewing a website, you gotta try it on for size.

“I don’t know I just feel like you can visualize it when it’s right in front of you,” said 16-year-old Mitch Long.


This year, it’s all about electronics:

  • Apple’s new iPhone was the #1 choice of teens surveyed by Ebates, and after talking to bunch of young people, I am not surprised.
  • Other gadgets in high demand include the iPad, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One… plus the apps and games that go with them.
  • Some teens want clothing, a few want new shoes, and almost everyone I talked to said they’d be happy with a gift card.
  • The most random items mentioned to me? A soccer goal and a trip to a college football bowl game. (Proof that not every teen wants a device.)

Another factor? SOCIAL SHOPPING

More than half of teens say that what’s trending on the internet can impact what’s trending on their wishlists:

“I prefer to buy in-store, but online and social media definitely trigger me getting to the store,” said a girl shopping with her mom in Times Square.

  • Twitter is the most influential social platform when it comes to teen spending
  • Facebook can also impact purchases — one teen told me that when friends post about a popular item, it makes them want it even more.
  • Instagram is increasingly influential as well, since it’s a purely visual platform. As we all know, seeing is believing.
  • It should also be noted that promotional emails can play a big role in luring teens to either a website or a store.


This is where teen purchasing power really gets interesting:

“Like if I want a skateboard from Element across the street, I tell my mom that it’ll help me get healthier and fitter,” said Smalls.

“The last thing I convinced my parents to buy, I’d have to say it was a Samsung Galaxy, admitted Mitch.

Other items teens said they recently convinced their parents to buy: shoes, clothes at Forever 21, and of course, video games.

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