Apparently, you shop like your parents
Apparently, you shop like your parents Sofia Harrison, 15, holds up clothes for her friends to see while shopping at Roosevelt Field shopping mall in Garden City, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Apparently, you shop like your parents
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Giulia Pugliese is a typical teenager. She likes to look good, and she's particular about what she wears.
But when The Associated Press followed the 15-year-old from Long Island on a back-to-school shopping trip with friends, she left a Nike store empty-handed - even though Nike is one of her favorites. The reason?
"I buy on sale because it's stupid to buy a pair of shorts for $60," said Pugliese, who instead looks for the "Swoosh" logo in discount stores like Marshalls.
Teens are shopping like their parents during the back-to-school season, and that's putting a lot of pressure on retailers to change the way they market to them. Gone are the spending sprees, starting weeks before school bells ring. More teens are thrifty nowadays, a habit picked up from their recession-scarred parents.
Today's kids recycle more clothes from the previous school year, mixing and matching the old with the new for different looks. They also shop year-round for things they need so they're spending less money this time of year.
When they do buy, they're less likely to get anything that's not on sale. And the number of kids who'll reuse last year's items rose to 39 percent from 26 percent between 2011 and 2015, says a Deloitte LLP poll of 1,000 parents.
And when teens shop, they're spending less. Families with school-age kids, on average, are expected to spend $630.36 this year, according to a survey of 6,500 by the National Retail Federation. That's down 6 percent from last year and results have registered declines for four out of the past seven years.
Overall, back-to-school spending this year should hit $42.5 billion, up 2.1 percent from the previous year, according to The Retail Economist, a research firm. That's much lower than the 5 to 6 percent average gains typically seen in a healthy economy.
Teens' behavior is an extension of how their parents learned to shop since 2008 when retailers pushed discounts to entice people to buy during the downturn. That helped lure shoppers, but it also got them addicted to deals. The shift made it difficult for stores to make money because discounts cut into profits.
Such behavior has cut into sales from July through September, the second biggest shopping period of the year behind the winter holidays. Sales during that period were 24.9 percent of total sales annually last year, down from 25.8 percent in 2003, according to The Retail Economist.
"Consumers are sending a message to retailers that says 'the back-to-school shopping season just isn't that important anymore,'" says Deloitte's Alison Paul.
The shift is changing how stores market to teens. Whereas stores' promotions would end around Labor Day, they're now extending them through September. They're also pulling together complete outfits from different brands in stores to make it easier for teens to buy looks, and they're using social media campaigns to be more easily discovered by teens.
To observe teens' new behavior, the AP followed Pugliese; her cousin, Arianna Schaden, 14; and two friends, Isabella Cimato, 17, and Sofia Harrison, 15, at Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, N.Y. Here are some ways teens are shopping differently, and how retailers are adjusting:
Teens aren't impatient about shopping.
Although they started shopping weeks early, the four teens plan to delay buying things they don't need immediately, like jeans, until well after school starts and the weather cools. In fact, they're planning to spend about half of their back-to-school budget of about $400 after school begins.
Cimato didn't buy anything at all that day. Harrison, who bought just a few shirts, said: "To be honest, it's not that big of a deal because I shop year round."
Besides that, they want big discounts, and during their shopping trip, Schaden found a $58 romper she liked, but decided to leave the mall without it.
"I think I buy on sale because my mom never buys something unless it's on sale," she said.
Teens aren't roaming around at the mall for kicks during back-to-school. They're researching the looks they want online and follow popular hashtags on social media so they can piece together looks before they get there. Google says its image searches for "school outfit" have grown dramatically during the past three years, and soared 76 percent in July.
Cimato, who researched denim tops and items with fringe on Instagram, said: "I pretty much know what I am looking for."
That presents challenges for retailers that are worried teens will bypass their stores because they're focused on items they already want to buy. So, retailers are trying to get teens' attention before they are in stores.
Macy's, for instance, is identifying key trends and hashtags on social media that are getting lots of followers. It now highlights shoe trends using the popular hashtag FWIS, which means, "from where I stand."
Teens no longer want to be carbon copies of each other. Now, kids, inspired by what they see on Instagram and the like, want to personalize hot looks.
"I'm not a big fan of logos," Harrison said. "That's distracting to my style."
That behavior makes it hard for retailers to dictate specific looks, which means retailers have to do more marketing to attract teens.
Penney's back-to-school ad campaign called "Bend the Trend" tries to show how easy it is to put together trends for a personalized style. And like many teen retailers, Hollister has scaled back its logoed merchandise.
"Today, the customer is the center of everything we do," said Hollister president Fran Horowitz.

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Which habits have teens picked up from their parents?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    9/01/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    Of course teens shop like their parents. It is inevitable for kids to take on habits of their parents because that is what they've seen and what they know.

  • aliviab-ste
    9/01/2015 - 01:51 p.m.

    More and more teens should look for the better deals. There really is no reason to spend $50-$60 on a shirt or pair of pants, or to buy a whole new wardrobe when they still have a bunch of old clothes in good condition that they haven't grown out of. Teens are becoming better shoppers and will ultimately save a lot of money in the future if they continue this behavior throughout their life if they continue to not buy merchandise they do not absolutely need.

  • sierrab-ste
    9/02/2015 - 09:05 a.m.

    This is beyond true. I myself, and most people I know are thrifty shoppers. I love buying all name brand clothes, but I find it ridiculous to be paying $60 for one pair of pants. However I am more of a thrifty shopper compared to my mom, as she just wants to buy everything, even things she don't need.

  • matt-1-hab
    9/03/2015 - 12:03 p.m.

    My mom shops at Walmart because she works and gets discounts. Sometimes she shops at Jordan Creek mall. My mom spends about $300 on clothes each year. She shops when it is tax free weekend. She still has expensive clothes she buys. I don't care what clothes I where as long as i get to school on time.

    9/07/2015 - 12:07 p.m.

    In American culture there is an ideology of saving money for a lot of people. Parents of teens today are mainly the ones who have focused on doing this while shopping. Us teens have seen our parents embrace this ideology and have picked up on it. It is what we have seen while growing up, so it's inevitable that we would follow in the same footsteps as we reached the age of being able to shop by ourselves.

    9/07/2015 - 10:37 p.m.

    Teens are recycling clothes, and buying things on sale in order to spend less money. This ties in with social practices. To illustrate, the article spoke of a girl named Schaden, who mentioned how she thinks she only buys items on sale because that's what her mom does. This is a socail practice that teens often learn from their parents.

  • valentynas-1-glo
    9/14/2015 - 07:48 a.m.

    Shopping Habits that teens have picked up from their parents are shopping the sales. Teens now will rarely buy something that is not on sale, and are reusing and recycling their old clothes with new ones to create new/different looks. A lot more teens are thrifty nowadays too, and don't pay as much focus on brands.

  • trinityo-glo
    9/14/2015 - 07:56 a.m.

    This article is very interesting because I think it is true that teens are shopping like their parents. I shop like my parents. I set a budget and I discipline my self not to go over that budget. If the price of the piece of clothing I want is crazy it is best not to buy it, because it is a waste of money. Why should I waste my money on a piece of clothing that could go on sale.

  • lillyw-1-glo
    9/14/2015 - 07:58 a.m.

    Critical thinking question: The habits that teens have picked up from their parents are choosing things that are on sale. Their parents did this kind of thing in the recession in 2008, and now teens have caught onto this habit. That is now affecting back to school shopping. The group of teens interviewed in this article didn't buy much because they can buy things all year to save money instead of buying everything at the beginning of the school year. For example, the teens in the article didn't buy any jeans so they could buy them in the fall or winter.

    Teens are also focused on things they want to buy already when they go shopping because they can see popular style trends on social media.

    I have always enjoyed shopping in stores all year long.

  • sidraa-glo
    9/14/2015 - 07:59 a.m.

    This article explains how teenager's thinking, buying, and styles have really changed over the years from, wanting to be like everyone else, to personalizing their look on social media. They are even developing a few traits from their parents such as buying whatever is on sale and reusing clothes and supplies of the year before. The minds of teenagers have really changed and developed to smarter, unique people!

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