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Teens Are Worried About the Economy, But That Won't Stop Them From Going to Chick-fil-A

Gen Z is taking over as the hot new consumer group, but teens are spending less and less.

Market watchers and economists have speculated about an upcoming recession for months, and according to CNBC, even teenager consumers are tightening up on spending. It’s probably safe to assume that the pocketbooks of many Gen Z consumers could be tied to their parents, but teen spending hit the lowest survey level since 2011 as reported by Piper Jaffray’s 38th biannual “Taking Stock with Teens” report.

According to the survey, which gathered self-reported data from 9,500 U.S. teens, food continues to be the No. 1 priority in terms of wallet share at 23%—and at the top of that list is none other than Chick-fil-A. “The two most challenged categories were handbags and cosmetics as females reprioritize their spending with eating out and footwear/apparel,” said Erin Murphy, Piper Jaffray senior research analyst as reported by Yahoo Finance.

In the 2018 survey, Chick-fil-a took down Starbucks as teens’ favorite chain by both upper- and average-income teens. In 2010, the franchise wasn't even among the top five, but has been making its way up the ranks ever since. In 2011, Starbucks displaced McDonald’s as the favorite brand for average-income teens, but its popularity has been steadily waning. 

In the 2019 survey, Chipotle Mexican Grill came is the No. 3 spot in top restaurants, with McDonald’s coming in at No. 4 and Dunkin’ at No. 5.

In spite of economic woes, it looks like franchises—particularly QSRs—are holding strong in popularity, snagging four out of five of the top restaurant spots.

To see where the rest of teenagers’ money is going (spoiler alert: more than you would think is going to Crocs), read about the report on CNBC.