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. Charts

    The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams

    A new exhibit from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association showcases the simple visualizations of complex ideas that have changed how we live.

  2. An apartment building with a sign reading "free rent."
    Equity

    If Rent Were Affordable, the Average Household Would Save $6,200 a Year

    A new analysis points to the benefits of ending the severe affordability crisis.

  3. Equity

    What the New Urban Anchors Owe Their Cities

    Corporations like Google and Amazon reap the spoils of winner-take-all urbanism. Here’s how they can also bear greater responsibility.

  4. Rescue crews and observers on top of the rubble from a collapsed building that fell in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.
    Environment

    A Brigade of Architects and Engineers Rushed to Assess Earthquake Damage in Mexico City

    La Casa del Arquitecto became the headquarters for highly skilled urbanists looking to help and determine why some buildings suffered more spectacularly than others.

  5. How To

    Could Urban Farms Be the Preschools of the Future?

    A group of architects proposed a new design to help raise environmentally responsible kids.