Opinion: Holiday gift anxiety is affecting teens. Here’s how to help.

By Anne Landers

December 15, 2023

It’s not uncommon for adults to feel the pressure associated with holiday shopping: gifts for family, friends, extended relatives—it can add up fast.

But this year, according to a survey by research firm Big Village, that stress is reaching beyond adulthood. Nearly 60% of teens say rising costs have impacted the number and types of gifts they have received for the holidays, and nearly three in four (71%) are concerned about the impact of inflation on this year’s holiday shopping season. 

The results are part of the Junior Achievement of Arizona Teens & Holiday Spending survey, which assesses teen consumer attitudes associated with the holiday shopping season. The survey of 1,003 13- to 17-year-olds was conducted by Big Village from October 10 through 15, 2023.

Additional findings include:

  • While 71% of teens say they get holiday spending money from their parents or caregivers, 19% say they get it from a gig job or side hustle (gig jobs often have age restrictions against minors doing them).
  • 76% of teens plan to shop “in-store” this year, compared to 81% in 2021, with 67% also shopping online, compared to 70% in 2021.
  • Top teen gift ideas include:
  • clothing (58%, down from 62% last year), 
  • Gift cards (51%, down from 52% last year), 
  • Video games (44%, down from 47% last year), 
  • Accessories (41%, down from 43% last year),
  • Small electronics (33%, down from 35% last year)

“These survey results would indicate that teens are experiencing the economic realities of higher prices,” said Junior Achievement of Arizona President Katherine Cecala. “At Junior Achievement, we encourage parents and caregivers to take this opportunity to discuss things like putting together a budget for the holidays, comparison shopping, and creative gifting if higher prices or hard-to-find items become a challenge. Also, while we at Junior Achievement believe work experience is valuable, if teens are doing gig jobs, parents and caregivers should be aware of age restrictions associated with those applications and, if warranted, encourage their teens to do more age-appropriate work.”

For money management skills, Junior Achievement offers JA Connect, a free, online resource where teens can learn about careers, entrepreneurship, and how to manage money. The “My Money” section takes teens through developing a budget and planning their financial future. JA Connect is available at connect.JA.org.

Methodology

This Youth CARAVAN survey was conducted by Big Village among a sample of 1,003 13-17-year-olds. This survey was live on October 10-15, 2023.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. 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, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. It is nationally representative with set quotas based on census data. The 1,003 completes are all who qualified and completed based on the demographic quota requirements. The MoE is +/- 3.1%.

About Junior Achievement of Arizona:

Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA) is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization that equips Arizona students to succeed in work and life by giving them the knowledge and skills they need to manage their money, plan for their future, and make smart academic, career and economic choices. Since 1957, JA has taught kids, kindergarten through high school, about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. The organization’s hands-on, age-appropriate programs are delivered by more than 7,500 corporate and community volunteers. Despite educational obstacles during the pandemic, JA reached approximately 170,000 students in the 2022-2023 school year. Follow @JAArizona on social media or visit jaaz.org/resources for more free online educational tools.

Author

  • Anne Landers

    As Chief Operating Officer, Anne Landers is committed to ensuring that the Arizona community has a high-impact and positive experience with JA, so the organization can continue to shape the futures of tens of thousands of students each year. She has been part of the JA team for 9 years.

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