Teen Beat

Tech Is Cruelly Ripping Teens From Their Natural Shopping Mall Habitats

iPhones matter more than fashion these days.
Zombie‐like, they peace out. (Photo: Getty)

Zombie‐like, the teens are peacing out. (Photo: Getty)

Malls and cool teens: they go together like a Redditor and his fedora.

Or at least, they used to. According to this troubling report from the New York Times, the malls of America are no longer teens’ go-to stomping grounds. 

For retailers who market to teens, sales are expected to be 6.4 percent lower in the fourth quarter over the previous period, Thomson Reuters analysts report.

“It’s enough to make you think the teen is going to be walking around naked,” one not-at-all creepy analyst says.

Part of the issue is the ubiquity of fast fashion chains like Forever 21 and H&M, which sell lower quality clothes at a much lower price than the typical teen stores do. Former teen apparel kingpins like American Eagle and Abercrombie have already announced staffing shakeups.

It could be that online shopping is also edging out the retailers of yore. From the Times:

“Today, if you saw that Justin Bieber got arrested drag-racing,” Mr. McClintock said, “and you saw in the picture that he had on a cool red shirt, then you can go online and find that cool red shirt and have it delivered to you in two days from some boutique in Los Angeles.

“Ten years ago, teens were dependent on going to Abercrombie & Fitch and buying from the select items that Mike Jeffries, the C.E.O., thought would be popular nine months ago.”

Another issue: teens might care more about tech than they do about clothes these days. Xboxes and cell phones edge out the must have Starter jackets and UGGs of the olden days.

And here’s the definitive kiss of death: one 19-year-old in the Times story says, “When I think of who is shopping at Abercrombie, I think it’s more of people’s parents shopping for them.”

Ouch.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com