For Malls, Kicking Teens Out Brings Money In
For all their disposable income and penchant for spending money on things they don’t need, ABC News found that teenagers do more harm than good when they assemble in large groups and swarm around local malls. There’s the increased likelihood of horseplay to worry about, and the general unruliness that goes in tandem with having a big bunch of unsupervised kids running around.
So, at many shopping centers across the country, teens have been restricted: they can peruse malls only in limited groups, or have to be accompanied by some kind of guardian on weekends or after hours.
But aside from some griping and complaints from parents and teens alike, the widespread policy has actually been really good for business:
The Mid Rivers Mall in St. Louis, Mo., started sending away teens at the end of May, and it has resulted in both more customers and sales. After a month, overall mall traffic was up 5 percent on Friday and Saturday nights, and sales were up 3 to 10 percent in all categories, including teen-oriented retailers, according to the property’s management.
Slightly different policies at malls elsewhere have produced similar effects. The Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn, for example, only allows teens to travel in groups of four or less. At the massive Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., teens can’t come to the mall at all if there’s no one to supervise them.
We would argue that teens should have a little more freedom to roam around than that, but no mall has the responsibility to be a training ground for young adutlhood. What they do have the responsibility to do is to preserve their bottom lines, and in banning teens, that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Howard Davidowitz, a retail consultant, said that shutting out teens is good for business. Even though many of the mall’s specialty stores, like the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch or the costume jewelry store Claire’s, send out siren songs for teens’ to spend there, the department stores, which generally attract older customers, are more important to the mall. They bring in more business because they advertise and promote the center.
“There has to be a balance,” Davidowitz said. “The problem a developer has is if it becomes a hangout, it becomes scary for older customer. That’s the department store customer, and that’s the anchor of the center.”
Forcing teens to come in with their parents brings in more money, too — instead of the chump change parents dole out to their kids for spending money, the guardian policy brings the parents directly to the register.
It also makes teens spend more time with their parents. Maybe if parents and their kids did that to begin with, teens would have already learned by example how to act in public.
[Via ABC News]