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The Age of Affluence

Apparel spending in descending order by age groups.<br><br><br><br>Older baby boomers spend the most money on apparel, but Gen Y-ers are the most fashion-obsessed, spending the largest portion of their annual income on clothing. The 18- to...

Apparel spending in descending order by age groups.

Older baby boomers spend the most money on apparel, but Gen Y-ers are the most fashion-obsessed, spending the largest portion of their annual income on clothing. The 18- to 24-year-olds in the Gen Y category are still influenced by their parents, but their shop-till-you-drop ethos is strong indeed. The group spends 31 percent more than average on televisions and other electronic equipment.

1

Age: 45-54

Apparel spending: $2,371 (4 percent of total income)

Income before taxes: $58,889

Older baby boomers, like Lauren Hutton, spend more money on apparel than any other group, although Gen Y-ers (see below) spend a greater percentage of their total income on clothing. Other spending priorities: housing, $14,179; vehicle purchases, $3,863; food away from home, $2,607; health care, $2,200; entertainment, $1,955; household furnishings and equipment, $1,911; savings contributions, $1,537; education, $1,146.

2

Age: 35-44

Apparel spending: $2,323 (4 percent of total income)

Income before taxes: $56,500

Younger baby boomers, whose purchases are influenced by children at home, represent 42 percent of all U.S. households and control 50 percent of consumer spending. After all, that’s how the Material Girl got her name. Other spending priorities: housing, $15,111; vehicle purchases, $3,996; food away from home, $2,607; entertainment, $2,463; household furnishings and equipment, $1,906; health care, $1,774, savings contributions, $1,003; education, $615.

3

Age: 25-34

Apparel spending: $2,059 (4.5 percent of total income)

Income before taxes: $45,498

Gen X-ers are beginning to cope with the demands of adulthood, dressing for success and socking away some money instead of buying another pair of Manolo Blahniks (unless you’re Kate Moss and get them for free) or a killer audio system. Other spending priorities: housing, $13,050; vehicle purchases, $4,139; entertainment, $1,876; home furnishings and equipment, $1,495; savings contributions, $684; education, $585.

This story first appeared in the August 29, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

4

Age: Average consumer

Apparel spending: $1,856 (4.2 percent of total income)

Income before taxes: $44,649

The U.S. Department of Labor used 48.2, the age of actress Rene Russo, as the reference age for its average consumer profile. Other spending priorities: housing, $12,319; vehicle purchase, $3,418; food away from home, $2,137; health care, $2,066; entertainment, $1,856; household furnishings and equipment, $1,549; savings contributions, $1,193; education, $632.

5

Age: 55-64

Apparel spending: $1,694 (3.5 percent of total income)

Income before taxes: $48,108

While empty nesters such as Sally Field have seen their health care costs rise ($2,508), false teeth and hip replacements are still a few years away. Other spending priorities: housing, $12,362; vehicle purchases, $3,623; entertainment, $1,955; household furnishings and equipment, $1,891; savings contributions, $1,301; education, $380.

6

Age: Under 25

Apparel spending: $1,420 (7.2 percent of total income)

Income before taxes: $19,744

Gen Y is having a good time. The group spends more on alcoholic beverages than other age groups, ($392), and 25 percent more than average dining away from home ($1,569). Gen Y-ers like Natalie Portman like to look good when they go out, spending almost double the average on clothing. Other spending priorities: housing, $7,109; vehicle purchases, $2,628; education, $1,257; entertainment, $1,091; savings contributions, $189.

7

Age: 65-74

Apparel spending: $1,130 (3.8 percent of total income)

Income before taxes: $29,349

Actress Maggie Smith is proof that people in their sunset years are still active; they spend 4.8 percent of their income ($1,403) on entertainment. Other spending priorities: housing, $9,671; health care: $3,163; vehicle purchases, $2,631; savings contributions, $2,022; food away from home, $1,418; education, $149.

8

Age: 65 and over

Apparel spending: $925 (3.7 percent of total income)

Income before taxes: $25,220

Seniors spend 86 percent more than average on home improvements and upkeep, and six times more than the average person under 25 on health care ($3,247), although New Age diva Shirley MacLaine prefers the holistic approach. Other spending priorities: housing, $8,759; vehicle purchases, $1,904; savings contributions, $1,828; food away from home, $1,205; entertainment, $1,069; education, $108.

9

Age: 75 and over

Apparel spending: $701 (3.4 percent)

Income before taxes: $20,563

Many aging seniors stick closer to home and spend a disproportionate amount of income on health care ($3,338), but not Brooke Astor, whose social schedule is always full. Other spending priorities: housing, $7,766; savings contributions, $1,618; entertainment, $707; household furnishings and equipment, $701; education, $63.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS APRIL 2002 REPORT: CONSUMER EXPENDITURES IN 2000.