Minneapolis

This fall, teens are spending more and going to the mall less. Teenage girls are spending more than teenage boys and industry bellwethers, like The Gap, are losing teen traffic to smaller specialty retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch.

That’s according to a report released today is data by U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Retail Analyst Jeff Klinefelter, who recently completed his second annual proprietary research survey on teen spending habits and retail brand perception.

In compiling the report, Klinefelter conducted mall research tours with 600 teens from 12 high schools in 12 cities in 10 states across the country. "Teens will spend to keep up with trends and therefore brand equity is more important than ever," he says.

Klinefelter surveyed the teens on their favorite places to shop as well as their spending habits. Based on their responses, Abercrombie & Fitch was found to be the most frequent overall destination, followed by American Eagle Outfitters and The Limited’s Express unit. A similar survey last spring found that the Gap was the most frequent overall destination, followed by Abercrombie & Fitch and then the Limited’s Express unit.

His findings support current comparable store sales trends showing that teen specialty stores are outpacing larger, but less trend-conscious competitors. "We believe industry bellwethers such as Gap and Limited may have ceded 'growth' leadership to smaller companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, Pacific Sunwear, Charlotte Russe, etc. We also believe a number of smaller private companies are quickly gaining market share in the specialty sector such as Aeropostale, Zumiez and Forever 21."