Shopping malls crack down on teens

Dozens of outlets nationwide lay down a new law: No teenagers without parents.

By Kim Peterson Oct 6, 2010 3:18PM
Shopping for deals © Big Cheese Photo/SuperStockThe shopping mall may no longer be hangout central for the bored American teen -- and that could affect sales at Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), American Eagle (AEO) and other retailers.

Shopping centers across the country are considering ways to ban the teen mall rat, ABC News reports. Dozens of malls now have a "parental escort policy" on weekend nights, requiring people younger than 18 to have a parent or guardian nearby.

The policy is intended to remove the potential for trouble (shoplifting and fighting) that can erupt when kids get together without supervision. But does this also remove the potential for teen sales?

One industry representative told WalletPop the policies will only get more restrictive in the busy holiday shopping season. "Even if they are not doing anything bad," the representative said, "general rowdiness or loud behavior -- anything like that could be a deterrent for other shoppers."

Come on, isn't this going overboard a bit? Hanging out at the mall has been a rite of passage for American teens for decades. Is your "mall haul" video going to be as cool if your Mom was there the whole time? Watch the video below for a "maul haul" explainer:
"They're treating 17-year-olds like they are babies who need supervision or juvenile delinquents who should be behind bars," one book author told ABC News. "There's a lot of self-fulfillment in that policy."

The ultimate consideration for malls, of course, is the bottom line. And at least one is reporting that sales went up after the parental escort policy was in place. Could it be that roving groups of teens were actually keeping other customers away?

The Mid Rivers Mall in St. Louis, Mo., said overall traffic went up 5% on weekend nights, ABC News reported. Sales rose from 3% to 10% in all categories -- even for teen-oriented retailers.

Other malls are likely seeing similar results. That could be why the "parental escort policy" is gaining steam. So far, retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch have said little about the new rules -- ANF has far bigger things on its mind, like international expansion and store closings -- but we may eventually see any impact play out in same-store sales results.
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