Teens Turn Thrifty

A dependable demographic for the concert industry – teens – is apparently becoming conservative, at least financially.

Teens haven’t been spared by the slump in the job market or the rising cost of basic necessities like food and gas, and so they’ve done the unthinkable – cut back on their spending habits.

With jobs for teens not as plentiful and parents not doling out as much cash for allowances, retailers to teens suffered an 8 percent drop in sales at established stores for the month of March.

Ellegirl.com, a teen offshoot of Elle magazine, recently began featuring a video called "Self-Made Girl," a DIY instructional on making clothes and accessories at home.

"It’s a little tacky in the economic unrest to tote a big logo bag," Holly Siegel, the site’s senior editor, said.

While hiring in the overall job market fell by 0.1 percent since March 2007, teen hiring has fallen by 5 percent, as mom-and-pop stores have been forced to lay off employees, which usually consist of younger workers.

Economists say the teen spending slump could be the worst in 17 years, compared to the period in the early 1990s when there was a 13-percent drop in teen hiring.

Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, said that if the larger job market falls in line with the last teen hiring slump, "we’re not out of the woods."

While clothing stores that cater to teens like Abercrombie and American Eagle Outfitters have reported sluggish sales, analysts say that the good news is that teens are still putting their money into tech gadgets like iPods, cell phones and headsets.