LCSN: Does teen spending point to economic recovery?

April 5, 2010. Retrieved online: April 5, 2010, from Brook Stockberger, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — Perla Garcia, 15, said she earns some money babysitting. With that she likes to go shopping for clothes.

Mariah Padilla, 18, who like Garcia is a student at Mayfield High School, works at a family business for her extra cash.

“I like to shop for shirts, shoes, those kinds of things,” Padilla said.

Teen shopping appears to be on the rise, and that is good news for the economy.

The market research firm NPD Group recently reported that teens are spending about 6 to 8 percent more in general, compared with a year ago.

“Whether it be sports equipment, whether it be athletic footwear, whether it be fashion, whether it be electronics, the teen market is showing signs of life and positive growth,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group, told the Los Angeles Times. “Clearly the teen is leading the charge when it comes to the (economic) return.”

Susan Palmer, marketing director for the Mesilla Valley Mall, said she is seeing the same trend.

“Our teen clothing stores are doing pretty well,” she said. “Six out of eight had an increase (in sales) in February over last February.”

Bruce Huhman, who teaches marketing at New Mexico State University, said that, if teenage spending is on the rise, that could be an indicator that the job market is starting to improve.

“Teens are often in part-time jobs, which are frequently the first to be cut when there’s a downturn,” Huhman said. “We saw the hiring of teens drop off very dramatically. If teens are starting to spend more, and have money in their pockets, that means hiring must be improving.”

He said teenage shoppers are prized by retailers.

“They have a lot of disposable income and they don’t have a lot of debt or fixed payments,” he said. “They are very important in a lot of other, entertainment areas, like movies; the top grossing movies are teen movies. Of course they’re very important in clothing.”

Henry Stewart, 18, said he has a job and that makes a big difference.

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