Tough times are hitting teenagers, too.
They've cut their fashion spending by 14 percent since this time last year, and younger teens have slashed their clothing budgets by nearly a fifth, according to a survey released Wednesday by Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray & Co.
The survey of 8,100 students nationwide, whose average age was between 16 and 17, concludes that the still-sputtering economy and low consumer confidence have caused both parents and teens to trim their allowances for discretionary purchases. But parents continue to shield their children from the brunt of the recession.
"The teen is the last priority to be affected within the household budget," said Piper analyst Jeff Klinefelter, who directs the twice-a-year survey. "Parents are still stepping in to fill in where employment isn't."
Only 35 percent of teens surveyed had part-time jobs in the past six months, compared with about half in previous surveys. Household breadwinners are digging deeper into their own wallets, spending an average of $915 on their teens in the past year, up from $883 a year ago.
Klinefelter said the scarcity of part-time jobs for teens helps explain the decline in their spending, but so does a three-year "fashion recession," which he said has yet to strike bottom.
But give teens something cool to buy, and much of those recessionary explanations fly out the school-bus window.
Teens are plunking down 21 percent more on footwear, the survey showed. They head to specialty stores with the West Coast flavor, such as Pacific Sunwear and Zumiez, rather than the department stores their parents prefer.
As for the first place teens stop at the mall? Starbucks. They're probably not downing a double espresso on their way to Hollister, but teens ranked the Seattle-based coffee company as their top restaurant destination, followed by Chipotle and McDonald's.
Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335