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
Lexile

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


COMMENTS (34)
  • ryanp-1-glo
    9/14/2015 - 08:05 a.m.

    The habits that teens have picked up from their parents is shopping only when there is sale and deals on select items. Buying on sale, helps save money and get good clothing for a less price. By doing this, parents and teens are able to spend money on clothing and still have enough money for other necessities. -Ryan Payne

  • mikaylam-1-glo
    9/14/2015 - 08:07 a.m.

    When it comes to shopping, teens have picked up a habit of buying smarter, being patient, and being themselves. What I mean by "buying smarter" is that teens nowadays are mostly, if not always, purchasing items from the clearance section. Thinking like Pugliese that "..it's stupid to buy a pair of shorts for $60..". Also, patience is key when it comes to getting what you want at the right price. Most teens are starting to not buy everything at the beginning of the school year, instead they're waiting for the deals and buying year round instead. Name brands are also stressing when it comes to marketing towards teens. Instead of trying to being like every other teen and buying from the same, popular name brand, more and more teens are starting to be themselves. Finding their own style through clothing that isn't as popular, and because of this, shopping and marking is going to start change a lot.

  • erins-3-glo
    9/14/2015 - 11:35 a.m.

    Teens have picked up shopping habits from their parents. That is because when the recession hit in 2008, people were less focused on spending a lot and bought things on sale. Kids learn from their parents choices, so now teens are buying things on sale. I have picked up my parents habits like that too because I only buy something when it is at least a little bit discounted. My mom uses Amazon Prime to get designer things for cheap, so I do too.

  • cameronw-2-glo
    9/14/2015 - 11:35 a.m.

    The habits that teens have picked up from their parents are studying prices on items and trying to make them as cheap as possible. I think they have picked these up because what their parents do are what they see and what they know so they are going to try to reflect that because it has been ingrained in them over the years.

  • mayceen-2-glo
    9/14/2015 - 11:39 a.m.

    Starting even from infancy, people are hardwired to do as their parents. It traditionally starts when children are very young, as they learn to do things like talking and writing. As small as those things seem, parents impact both of those things greatly. For instance, if a child is raised in an English speaking country by a Spanish speaking parent, they will first be taught by their parents to speak Spanish as a first language, and will usually take on English as a second. Parents have at least some impact on almost everything you do. Whether it be your morals of how you hunt for deals in this fast-paced, shopping crazed world.

  • averyj-2-glo
    9/14/2015 - 11:39 a.m.

    Homo sapiens learn by mimicking those around them, so it is only natural that teens will learn to shop the same way that their parents do. Teens learn to be frugal from their parents, in 2008 their parents learned to look for better deals to get the most out of their money, so that is how the teens of today learned to shop.

  • katiev-1-glo
    9/14/2015 - 11:40 a.m.

    I think we see how our parents shop as we grow up and we eventually shop this way too. For example, I do tend to wait and buy stuff on discount because you can get more for less. Also, teens tend to have the same morals or beliefs as their parents. They are raised to believe something and usually pass their beliefs onto their children. However, some people try to be the opposite. Stereo-typically, preachers kids tend to be rebellious because they don't want to fit the mold they were raised to fit.

  • maddiel-1-glo
    9/14/2015 - 11:40 a.m.

    Recently, teens have been more controlled when shopping. Not spending as much, teens have been shopping more and more like their parents; being more drawn towards sales and clearance items. They have noticed how their parents don't usually buy something if it's not on sale, and they have been following their parents shopping behaviors.

  • skylarm-2-glo
    9/14/2015 - 11:40 a.m.

    Shopping habits from parents are being picked up by their children. Some habits like shopping only for sales, shopping year-round rather than just for back to school, and picking out outfits before they get there so they know what to get are just some of the many habits that teens are following from their parents. Teens now will not buy something they want if it is too expensive and not on sale. One teen left a store without anything just because the items were not on sale. This could be a good thing because families are not having to spend so much on back to school shopping, but bad because then the economy is suffering the downfall of income because their stuff isn't on sale or just cheap.

  • emmah-2-glo
    9/14/2015 - 11:40 a.m.

    One of the habits that teens pick up from their parents is finding deals, because when you're a teenager you begin to pay for cloths yourself and when cloths are expensive teenagers won't buy them, I wouldn't unless something expensive had a sale. "When they do buy, they're less likely to get anything that's not on sale." In the articles the parents are most likely going to buy something that is on sale. "'I think I buy on sale because my mom never buys something unless it's on sale,' she said." a daughter was saying that she thinks the reason that she only shops for things on sale is because her mother does and she has grown to buying things with good deals. It is also learning to appreciate and save money.

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