Teen girls are spending again.
That's one of the key findings of the 41st "Taking Stock with Teens" Piper Sandler survey, a closely-watched, biannual report on trends and hot brands among the group now known as Gen Z (which the Pew Research Center defines as anyone born in 1997 onward). Female teens spent 9% more on clothing than a year earlier, the biggest gain since 2015.
It's also one of three surprises for senior analyst Erinn Murphy.
"The big surprise is that female spending across so many different categories we slice and dice was inflecting positively, and male spending was still downtrending," Murphy told Yahoo Finance Live in an interview. Clothing, skincare and handbags all saw increases, while male spending on clothing fell by 15%.
Murphy said that inflection could be a good sign for future growth, since the last time there was a big boost to female spending, it was coming out of the last recession. "That ended up being a multi-year apparel cycle, which we think we're coming into now on the other side of COVID," she said.
Where teens are spending that money is important for investors. Perennially at the top of the list is Nike, the most-favored apparel brand for teens for 10 1/2 years running. In footwear, it was named as the top brand by a whopping 56% of the teens surveyed.
Another hot brand was the source of another of Murphy's surprises.
"Under Armour, an athletic brand which has really lost its way over the last several years is making a comeback." It rose to the fourth-favorite apparel brand among teen boys, up from No. 10 last year. Murphy also highlighted Lululemon, e.l.f. Beauty, Crocs, Revolve and Tapestry in the report as other stocks to watch, either because the brand moved up the ranks or other improvements in the survey.
Murphy believes that Lululemon stock in particular is a good buy, after a 12% slide this year that followed a 50% gain in 2020. "We think there's a lot to come from a growth perspective internationally. We don't think the athletic or the comfort theme is going out of style any time soon."
The final surprise, for Murphy, was teens' interest in cryptocurrencies. Of the 7,000 surveyed, 9% said they had traded crypto. Of those, 81% were male. This was the first time Piper Sandler had included a crypto question.
Julie Hyman is the co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live, weekdays 9am-11am ET.