The Challenges Facing Teen Retailers In The Digital Age

What are teens spending their money on if not on clothes?

Today’s teens are an internet-savvy, connected bunch. A study conducted by Pew Research Center shows that 92 percent of teenagers use the internet daily, and 24 percent of teens are online “almost constantly.”

And as nearly three-quarters of all teens have access to smartphones, more than half of them use the internet multiple times a day.

“This digital adeptness has immensely affected the areas where teenagers meet, where they shop and what they spend their money on,” according to a report from Forbes, which helps explain why many once-popular teen retail brands, like Aéropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch and Gap, have been struggling lately.

But also, teens’ interests seem to be shifting away from fashion and more toward technology, like tablets, wearables and smartphones.

Over the past 10 years, teenage spending on clothing, footwear and accessories has fallen from 45 percent to 38 percent, while spending on video games has more than doubled over that same period and now accounts for 8 percent of the average teen’s total spending, according to Piper Jaffray’s teen spending review.

Among teens, Amazon is the most popular retailer, with 41 percent of teenagers favoring the eCommerce giant for online purchases (up from 31 percent in spring 2014).

Teens also seem to prioritize “experiences” more now as well. Among teens, their favorite app is Instagram because it lets them share pictures of their “experiences” with their friends.


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