Teenage spending is down by 14% this year. It’s a demographic not many pay attention to, especially since teens don’t often hold jobs or have a lot of disposable income. Much of their spending money comes from their parents – but when the parents are tightening their budgets, teens price-shop too.

At malls across America, teenagers are spending less and frequenting stores that have lower price tags. A demographic that used to be largely concerned with whether something was cool or trendy – which is to say, it had the right label and came from the right store – is now more concerned about making smaller budgets stretch farther.

Abercrombie and Fitch’s several stores in slightly different price brackets are a good demonstration of the shift in teen priorities. An Abercrombie shirt used to be a status symbol, but now teens are shopping at the less-expensive Hollister, which is Abercrombie wear at lower prices, just as Ruehl is their more-expensive storefront.

shoppingAbercrombie isn’t alone in their dependence on status symbols. Many other companies have created several degrees of price brackets for essentially the same clothing styles, and teens are drifting ever closer to the lower end of the scale. Spending for status may be a thing of the past, and stores will have to learn to adjust.