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Navigating a "Blue Christmas"

How Rising Prices Impact Teen Holiday Spending

Christmas present and decor with a blue background.

Image caption: For many teenagers, it seems that a "Blue Christmas" might be in store.

It's that time of year again, where the holiday season is upon us. However, for many teenagers, it seems that a "Blue Christmas" might be in store. According to our recent survey conducted by the research firm Big Village, over half of teens report that rising prices have had a significant impact on the number and types of gifts they've received during the holidays in recent years.

As the cost of living continues to rise, it's no surprise that teens, just like their adult counterparts, are feeling the economic pinch. But what does this mean for their holiday spending and what steps can we take to support them during these trying times?

Teens' Holiday Spending and Concerns

Inflation Concerns

It's not just the impact of rising prices on their gift-giving that concerns teens. Nearly three-in-four, a whopping 71 percent of them, expressed worries about the effects of inflation on this year's holiday shopping season. This is a considerable shift in perspective, as inflation typically remains a topic reserved for the financial discussions of adults.

How Teens Fund Their Holiday Shopping

Holiday Spending Money Sources

Teens rely on various sources to fund their holiday shopping. According to the survey, 71 percent of teens say they get holiday spending money from their parents or caregivers. It's a common and expected source of funds for many teenagers.

What's intriguing is that 19 percent of teens look beyond their families for holiday cash and opt for a different route—gig jobs or side hustles. These can include anything from delivering groceries to tutoring, illustrating a growing trend among teens to take matters into their own hands.

The Gig Economy and Age Restrictions

However, there's a catch. Many gig jobs often come with age restrictions that prevent minors from participating. This presents a unique challenge for teens who seek financial independence through these opportunities. While work experience is undoubtedly valuable, it's crucial for parents and caregivers to be aware of these restrictions and encourage teens to explore age-appropriate work if needed.

Shopping Trends: In-Store vs. Online

In-Store Shopping

Despite the growth of e-commerce and online shopping, in-store shopping still holds significant appeal for teens. This year, 76 percent of teens plan to shop "in-store" for their holiday gifts. This number marks a slight decrease from 2021 when 81 percent preferred brick-and-mortar stores. The physical shopping experience remains a significant part of the holiday tradition for many teenagers.

Online Shopping

Online shopping has its place in the hearts of teens as well. This year, 67 percent of teens plan to shop online for their holiday purchases. This is a slight drop from the 70 percent who chose online shopping in 2021. The availability and convenience of online shopping options make it an attractive choice for many.

"These survey findings suggest that teenagers are dealing with the practical consequences of increased costs," said Jack Kosakowski, CEO of Junior Achievement USA. "At Junior Achievement, we urge parents and caregivers to seize this moment by discussing essential topics such as holiday budgeting, savvy shopping, and inventive gift-giving strategies in the face of elevated prices. Also, while we emphasize the value of work experience, it's crucial for parents and caregivers to be cognizant of age restrictions associated with gig jobs and, when necessary, guide their teenagers toward age-appropriate work opportunities."

How Junior Achievement Can Help

At Junior Achievement, we believe in equipping teens with essential life skills, particularly in the face of economic challenges. Teens today are experiencing the economic realities of higher prices, and we're here to provide support and resources to help them navigate these challenges.

Our organization offers a valuable resource for money management skills—JA Connect. This free online resource is designed to help teens explore careers, entrepreneurship, and, most importantly, how to manage money. The "My Money" section of JA Connect guides teens through the process of developing a budget and planning their financial future.

In conclusion, the "Blue Christmas" phenomenon is one that we can work together to mitigate. By providing teens with financial education, guidance, and support, we can help them overcome the challenges posed by rising prices and continue to make their holiday dreams come true.

Let's ensure that the "Blue Christmas" turns into a season of financial empowerment, learning, and positive growth for our teens.

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