Are Teens Spending Less This Season?

A new survey finds that teenagers plan to scale back on their purchases for others this holiday season, but the conclusions to draw from this trend are unclear. The online poll from Junior Achievement conducted during October and November interviewed 1,512 teens. (The JA people volunteered that participants were aged 13-19, which we pretty much figured out from the word "teen.")

The survey found the lower-gift-spending from teens consistent with the last three JA surveys, which all found teens pledging to spend less than the prior year. The average amount the surveyed said they would spend for gifts was $75.

But there are a few concerns with the survey. First, it's results fly in the face of several other national surveys, which have been predicting greater overall spending this year (although few have isolated the younger shopper so it may not be contradictory). The online survey--as opposed to one where a professional conducts the interview--is also notorious for giving skewed results. Lastly, it's unclear if the surveyed teens plan on spending less overall or merely spending less on gifts for others. Does this suggest teen miserliness or selfishness? JA issued a statement interpreting the results as "a positive indication that (teens) are learning the importance of spending within their means." Ahhhhhh, such optimism escapes me.