They eat at restaurants.

The suburban shopping mall has been part of American adolescent life since at least the 1950s, as the default location where teens hung out.

Now, malls are dying. Across the country, these giant suburban monstrosities have been closing, due in part to their inability to compete with cheaper online alternatives. (There is even a site, deadmalls.com, and collections of empty mall photos.) But the desertion of teens is also a big part of the reason why brick and mortar retail tenants have been closing their doors.

Teen mall traffic has declined by 30 percent over the past decade, according to Piper Jaffray’s 27th semi-annual study into teen behavior (which incorporates a survey of nearly 7,500 teens). Teens averaged 29 visits to the mall in the year to spring 2014, compared to 38 visits in 2007. And for the first time since the inception of the study, teens  (particularly high income ones) spent more on food and events than they did on clothing.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 2.30.11 PM

Quietly, the restaurant has displaced the mall as the socially acceptable place to hangout for teenagers in America. "Restaurants have become a gathering place and teens are increasingly suggesting they prefer dining out to other forms of status brand spending," the report says. "We see restaurants as the next generation hang out for teens."

The establishment of curfews and the imposition of heavy-handed mall cops have also contributed to the decline in mall culture, according to the report, alongside the well documented rise in e-commerce.
 

As for the rise in restaurant spending? The study finds that modern teens are more interested in "experiences" than name-brand clothes. There are some interesting dynamics underpinning this—but that’s a post for another day.

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A small accessory dwelling unit—known as an ADU—is attached to an older single-family home in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood.
    Design

    The Granny Flats Are Coming

    A new book argues that the U.S. is about to see more accessory dwelling units and guides homeowners on how to design and build them.

  2. Life

    The (Legal) Case Against Bidding Wars Like Amazon's

    The race to win Amazon’s second headquarters has reignited a conversation dating back to the late ‘90s: Should economic incentives be curbed by the federal government? Can they be?

  3. Environment

    Britain's Next Megaproject: A Coast-to-Coast Forest

    The plan is for 50 million new trees to repopulate one of the least wooded parts of the country—and offer a natural escape from several cities in the north.

  4. Police cars outside the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City
    Life

    The Great Crime Decline and the Comeback of Cities

    Patrick Sharkey, author of Uneasy Peace, talks to CityLab about how the drop in crime has transformed American cities.

  5. Transportation

    On Paris Metro, Drug Abuse Reaches a Boiling Point

    The transit workers’ union says some stations on Line 12 are too dangerous to stop at. What will the city do?