Centers work hard to woo teen shoppers

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Publish Date: July 28, 2014

As shopping center owners and retailers work harder at wooing and keeping the attention of the teenage shopper, many are revisiting virtually every aspect of their approach. For some this has meant a renewed emphasis on merchandise displays. Forest City Enterprises, for one, plans to work more closely with its tenants to create compelling displays, especially during special events when teen traffic count is exceptionally high. These may include freestanding showcases as well as window displays, and Forest City will gauge their effectiveness by means of a cellphone tracking system to determine the impact on mall traffic patterns, says Jane Lisy, the company’s senior vice president of marketing.

Last summer Forest City released the results of a survey on shopping habits among shoppers age 13 to 24, which revealed that young people are influenced not only by their peers but also by what they see in window displays. “Department stores used to spend a lot of money on compelling window displays but have gotten away from that,” said Lisy. “Teens are impulsive — you put something shiny in front of them, and they want it.”

Some of the largest teen-oriented apparel chains are also reviewing the ways they go about drawing teens in. At many of its Hollister stores, parent Abercrombie & Fitch has removed the heavy shutters that are the trademark of that brand in an attempt to place greater emphasis on merchandise and create a more inviting storefront, says Stephanie Wissink, a Piper Jaffray managing director and co-director of investment research.

With teens making fewer shopping trips now than in the past, as some studies show, brick-and-mortar retailers need to be sure they are doing all they can to capitalize on each visit, Wissink says. Some may want to re-examine certain long-standing policies, such as prohibiting photography in their stores at a time when photos posted on social-media sites like Instagram draw the interest of many young people. “Teens are looking for storefront windows to tell a story,” said Wissink, “about what a brand is delivering that season.”

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