Ah, rowdy teenagers disrupting the shopping experience at the mall. What is life in America coming to when we have to restrict access to a place that’s meant to attract people?
If you don’t know about this issue, malls began restricting access to teenagers in the mid-1990’s to cut down on noise, fights and shoplifiting. The deal is that teenagers after to be accompanied by an adult after 5pm in order to have access to the mall.
An article in Specialty Retail Report states:
“During the current economic downturn, Delaware’s Christiana Mall officials are gambling that turning away a significant subset of their customer base – the unsupervised, wandering teenagers who pile in on weekends – will, paradoxically, increase profits.
The International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade agency, counts 55 malls in the country to require chaperones at times for teenage patrons.
Though the idea first took root in the mid-1990s, most of its growth has happened lately. Thirty of the malls that now have curfews for unaccompanied teenagers began doing so within the last three years.
Erin Hershkowitz, a spokeswoman for the agency, said malls that adopt such policies may take a slight hit on sales to the younger set, but it is made up by increased shopping by adults who buy costlier items.
Malls that adopt curfews, she said, rarely relent.
Chambliss, the Christiana manager, predicted businesses that cater to a younger audience, such as Hot Topic or Pacific Sunware, may lose some sales initially but will rebound.”
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Know who is paying the bills, then cater to them.
Having spent a number of years working in the theme park and attractions business, we always had to balance the rowdy teen, coaster-riding audience with the families who wanted to have a magical experience with their kids.
Those two groups will always be diametrically opposed. So what do you do? You cater to families and manage the “teen element.” It’s as simple as that. Families have the money to spend. Parents have the money to spend on their kids. Teens do not.
These 55 malls know that the families are their bread and butter. They wouldn’t be in existence today if the teen curfew significantly impacted sales. It’s the parents who are buying the video games, the cell phones, the ipods, the clothes and everything else that teens want, regardless of whether the parents are with the teens or not when they’re shopping.
I don’t believe many of you have this issue as you probably aren’t in one of the 55 malls that have the teen curfew. But it’s important to note that no matter where your store is located, catering to parents and families is where the money is at and always will be.