Many mall officials would agree. As more kids flock to shopping centers, walkways get blocked, older customers jostled and strollers overturned amid the horseplay. Even teens blame their peers. "People just hang out there and do dumb stuff, and we have to pay for it," says Jordan Keinert, 17, of Mayfair's new policy. Interim measures such as issuing trespass warnings and beefing up police presence are often not enough to rein in throngs of trash-talking teens. "They'd still be all over the place no matter how many you threw out," says Bob Harrington, head of corporate security for Pyramid Management Group, which oversees 20 malls inand Massachusetts. And since too many cops chasing too many kids does not a pleasant shopping setting make, Pyramid now forces unchaperoned minors to leave its six biggest malls by 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
It's not a decision any mall owner makes lightly. Teens may shell out a lot less per visit compared with older customers, but nobody wants to alienate tomorrow's big spenders. David Renninger, a client-relationship executive at Jones Lang LaSalle, the largest third-party manager of shopping centers in the U.S., stresses that teens remain sought-after customers even in places with curfews. "We just want them to be supervised by a parent," he says. But while escort policies may restore a mall's family-friendly image--Renninger says some tenants at Genesee Valley Center in Flint, Mich., have reported double-digit sales growth since a 5 p.m. curfew began June 8--they can have a domino effect. Indeed, after Pyramid restricted teen access at one, Harrington fielded calls from security directors at nearby malls who were only half joking when they said, "Thanks a lot for doing that. They're all over here now."