Brands still have plenty of time to reach teens this holiday season

87% of teens say they’ll wait until after Thanksgiving to start shopping for gifts

Brands still have plenty of time to reach teens this holiday season

SAN FRANCISCO – November 19, 2020 – For many U.S. consumers, preparing for the holiday season has been a welcomed distraction from the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the National Retail Federation reported that nearly half (42%) of consumers planned to start their holiday shopping by the end of October. Teens, however, are waiting much longer to get started.

According to a new survey from Step, the modern-day financial services company built for teens and families, only 13% of teens plan to start their holiday shopping early. The majority cite deal-hunting, a lack of savings and school-related stress as their motivations for shopping later in the season.

  • 43% are holding out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals;

  • 31% are still saving up and plan to shop in December; and

  • 13% are busy with school and plan to shop at the last minute.

43% of teens
31% of teens
13% of teens

Teens are increasingly budget conscious but need help to make it stick

Additionally, with coronavirus cases on the rise and teens’ affinity for technology, 64% of respondents said they plan to do most of their shopping online. When it comes to how teens plan to prepare financially, many will need to be extra thrifty this year with limited budgets and five or more gifts to purchase.

As Americans racked up an average of $1,325 in debt on gifts last year (according to MagnifyMoney), teens are keenly aware of how easy it is to overspend and hope to break the cycle by being smarter with their money this holiday season.

  • 72% are planning to set a budget for their holiday shopping;

  • 48% are hoping to spend under $100 in total on gifts; however

  • 36% admit they’ve struggled to stick to their budget in previous years.

72% of teens
48% of teens
36% of teens

“Teens want to take more ownership of their financial futures, but limited conversations about money in school and at home make it hard to meet their financial goals,” said CJ MacDonald, Founder and CEO at Step. “We hope Step can help alleviate some of teens’ holiday stress by making it easier for them to shop online and track their spending in real-time.”

CJ MacDonald
We hope Step can help alleviate some of teens’ holiday stress by making it easier for them to shop online and track their spending in real-time.

The new study also reveals that the majority (62%) of teens are planning to rely on their allowance and other savings to pay for holiday gifts. Additionally, 82% of respondents say they’ll use cash or a debit card at checkout.

Creativity is king but teens still want tangible gifts

When asked where they come up with gift ideas, half of teens said they like to find inspiration on their own with few looking to social media or traditional wish lists. However, when it comes to what’s at the top of their own lists this year, experiences have dropped significantly with teens listing their preferences as:

  • Clothing, shoes & accessories (33%);

  • Gift cards or money (29%);

  • Electronics (27%);

  • Beauty products (5%);

  • An experience (4%); and

  • Books & board games (2%).

Gift doodles 1
Gift breakdown stats
Gift doodles 2

To celebrate the holiday season and help teens prepare, Step will be sharing budgeting tips and holiday hacks on its blog along with a special #12DaysofStep campaign where users will have the chance to win exclusive gifts.

Download Step today via the App Store or Google Play and follow @stepmobile on Instagram for the latest updates.

About Step

Step was founded by financial industry veterans CJ MacDonald and Alexey Kalinichenko to provide teens and their families with financial tools for today’s modern-day banking needs and to promote financial literacy for the future. The founding team has 50+ years in combined financial technology experience from companies like Gyft, First Data, Square and Google. Step is backed by Stripe, Crosslink Capital, Collaborative Fund, Kombo Ventures and Sesame Ventures. Step’s financial products are powered by its bank partner Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC and insured up to $250,000. To learn more, please visit:

About the Survey

The online survey was conducted via Intercom from October 20, 2020 to October 30, 2020, among a demographically representative sample of 1,003 Step users, aged 13 to 17.

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