Junior Achievement Survey Shows One-in-Ten Teens Expects to Spend Less This Year Due to the Pandemic

Despite social distancing guidance in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey by Junior Achievement (JA) shows that two-thirds of teens (68%) expect to do some of their holiday shopping “in-store,” at malls, discount stores, electronics stores, and at small businesses. Nearly as many (65%) expect to do some of their holiday shopping online. The survey of 1,003 teens between the ages of 13 and 17 was conducted in late-October by the research firm ENGINE Insights.

“Despite the global pandemic and its economic impact, teens appear to be very enthusiastic about shopping this holiday season, even if they may have to do it differently from past years,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “The holidays are a good time for parents to talk to their kids about personal finances. Budgeting, making informed choices, and even the proper use of credit cards or money apps can all be part of those conversations.”

More than half of teens (53%) feel that COVID has altered their plans for holiday shopping this year with more than a third (36%) reporting they are likely to do all their shopping online. While one-in-ten teens (11%) stated they are less likely to give gifts this year, nearly the same amount (10%) responded they are more likely to give gifts digitally, such as gift card codes, downloadable music, and games, this year.

The largest percentage of teens (37%) expects to spend less than $100 on holiday gifts, while about a fifth anticipate spending between $100 and $249 (20%). Far fewer (12%) think they will spend more than $250 on gifts. About a quarter (23%) either don’t know what they will spend or don’t anticipate buying presents.

The top gift idea is clothing (55%), followed by gift cards (45%), accessories, such as hats and shoes (44%), video games (43%), small electronics (30%), toys (29%), jewelry (28%), sporting goods/apparel (17%), and music (14%).


This report presents the findings of a Youth CARAVAN survey conducted by Engine among a sample of 1,003 13-17-year olds, comprising of 501 males and 502 females. This survey was live on October 20-25, 2020.

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.