August 16th, 2008Terrified by Teen Retail
In large ways or small, teenagers often horrify us because they just don’t do what we expect them to. Right now, these juvenile delinquents may be doing the last thing investors ever expected: not spending much money at the mall.
Gasp! How could it be possible? What’s with these kids today? Do they hate America that much?
My Foolish colleague Todd Wenning and I took a trip to a local mall last Tuesday for a little recon. We figured that since school’s out, surely we’d find some teens there, hanging out and maybe even buying stuff.
Instead, the mall was a ghost town. Most disconcerting, the mighty Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) was all but empty — and entirely lacking actual teens — despite its booming dance music.
Honestly, I was downright relieved to see a couple of warm-blooded, bona fide teenagers in American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO). Todd also spotted a few genuine young people there, as well as in Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO), and he was pleasantly surprised by foot traffic in long-struggling Gap (NYSE: GPS) and its Banana Republic unit.
However, with the exception of a few outliers, including a packed GameStop (NYSE: GME), the mall wasn’t exactly teeming with spendthrift teens.
I intend to do a weekend check of a different local mall soon, to see whether teens are simply saving their mad shopping skills for Saturdays and Sundays. (I’d like to see how some of Urban Outfitters’ (Nasdaq: URBN) stores seem to be doing, too, since I own a few shares of that stock.) However, I have a hunch a weekend trip might look strikingly similar.
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