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A Summer Well Spent: No Idle Time for Kids This Season

Parents to spend more than $70 billion on summer activities for their kids 

Not all fun in the sun as nearly all kids expected to pitch in around the house

NEW YORK  – School may be out, but spending is definitely up.  According to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, American parents will shell out $70 billion or more for summer activities. The average parent reports spending $958 on average for fun summer activities per child, up 12% from 2013 and a whopping 59% from 2012. Even so, summer won’t be all fun and games. Most parents (98%, on par with 2013) say they’ll be putting their kids to task at home doing chores to earn allowance for summer fun – though fewer say their teenagers intend to pursue a summer job (30% vs. 35% in 2013). 

“There will be no rest for weary kids this summer, as parents shell out more to keep their kids busy outside of the school year,” said David Rabkin, Senior Vice President of Consumer Lending Products at American Express.  “Throughout the year, we’ve seen higher spending in a number of areas, like travel, shopping and entertainment – so it’s no surprise that parents are planning to spend more to keep their kids active.  This is good news for seasonal retailers, as well as camps, theme parks and other entertainment venues.”

Across the board, spending on summer activities is on the rise, with top activities including:

Activity % Of Americans who plan to spend % Increase from 2013 % Increase from 2012 2014 Avg. Spend
Day Trips (e.g. Theme Parks)





Sports Teams





Pool or Club Membership





Education or Arts Programs





Day Camp





Sleep Away Camp





Teens Put in Summer Hours, but All Kids Still Report to Mom and Dad

Summer jobs will remain a popular pastime for teenagers, according to nearly a third (30% vs. 35% in 2013) of the parents who say their teens are planning to enter the workforce this summer. Childcare and food service still rule as the most sought-after pursuits; the top five jobs for teens this summer are:

  1. Babysitting (24% vs. 12% in ’13)
  2. Fast food service (24% vs. 27% in ’13)
  3. Grocery store (20% vs. 16% in ’13)
  4. Landscaping (16% vs. 15% in ’13)
  5. Retail store (11% vs. 7% in ’13)

Parents say that there’s been a shift from 2013, as more teens are opting to spend their summer earnings (54% vs. 49% in 2013), rather than save it (46% vs. 51% in 2013). Of those who are earmarking their spending, many teens are expected to use the money towards a car or vehicle (27%) and to cover the insurance (32%). Another quarter (25%) will put their earnings towards college tuition.

Nearly all parents (98%, on par with 2013) report assigning summer chores to their kids. In return, most will grant an allowance (83%), up from 66% in last year and 61% in 2012. This year, kids can bank on earning $27 per week on average, down slightly from $32 in 2012. The most common chores for kids of all ages include:

  • Cleaning their rooms/making the bed (85% vs. 87% in 2013)
  • Taking out the trash or recycling (63% vs. 65% in 2013)
  • Doing the dishes (55% vs. 57% in 2013)
  • Caring for a pet (54% vs. 56% in 2013)
  • Dusting or vacuuming the house (48%, not asked in 2013)

About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,253 adults, including the general U.S. population, as well as an affluent demographic defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000, and parents of children under 18. Interviewing was conducted by Ebiquity, formerly Echo Research, between June 13 – 16, 2014. The results reported in this release have an overall margin of error of +/- 2.8 (n=1,253 parents) at the 95 percent level of confidence.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.

About Ebiquity, Plc.

Ebiquity provides independent data-driven insights to global media, marketing and communications professionals to continuously improve clients’ business performance. This includes specialized services in research supporting creative testing, brand/advertising tracking, corporate reputation, brand image, research for public relations and thought leadership, global media/social media content analysis, and communications research. Ebiquity acquired Echo Research in May 2011 and Echo officially started conducting business under the Ebiquity name on July 1, 2013. Learn more at

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