Teens are one of the most heavily-stereotyped age groups in fiction, perhaps next to old people, and one stereotype about teens is that they have a preoccupation with shopping.
Usually, this is shopping for clothes or accessories, but it could be anything. However, this enjoyment of shopping is usually reserved for shopping alone, on a date, or with friends. If they're shopping with parents, grandparents, or siblings, they tend to find it embarrassing or annoying.
Sometimes, this might apply to all teens, but other times it's only the girls while the boys find shopping annoying. In fact, this is one of the traits of the Valley Girl. If there's a teenage character with an attitude problem, expect them to complain about not being allowed/able to go to The Mall at least once. Also, because another stereotype about teens is that they're insecure, buying clothes might stem from a desire to follow a trend. Sometimes, a few teens (usually nonconformists and/or highly intelligent teens) may not care about shopping, but they're still considered the exception rather than the rule. Examples like this are a downplayed version of the trope.
The association with teens and malls partially comes from the fact that teens are starting to become independent of their parents but are still too young to go to places such as bars, so malls are one of the places they can socialize with one another. The reason why this often applies to girls more than boys is due to the stereotype that females are more focused on appearance and therefore more likely to spend time shopping for clothes and accessories.
May overlap with All Women Love Shoes if it's a girl shopping for shoes, or Ms. Red Ink if she doesn't understand the value of money, or Credit Card Plot if she is given her parent's credit card to use. Compare Phoneaholic Teenager for another teenage stereotype. As teens are as diverse as every other age group, this is Truth in Television for some, but not others. The mall aspect is somewhat of an Undead Horse Trope: lots of teens prefer to shop online now but the association lingers on. May overlap with The Fashionista, except the Fashionista is not always a teen.
- Girlfriends: Akko initiates Mari into her group of popular teenage girls by taking her shopping and they frequently bond while shopping.
- My Hero Academia:
- After completing their final exams for the first semester, almost all the students of Class 1-A decide to go visit the local mall and blow off some steam with some shopping.
- In the aftermath of the school field trip, a group of the students decide to go shopping for disguises to blend in with the common crowds in order to move around publicly as they attempt to rescue Bakugo from the League of Villains. When Momo is asked why she didn't just create her own clothes, she starts making the excuse about disrupting the economy by creating clothes without buying or selling them. The others call her out for just wanting to go shopping, with Todoroki speculating that the rich Momo specifically wanted to shop at a Donki thrift store.
- The main characters of Dance Class sometimes have strips where they go shopping, either for dance outfits or just clothes in general. One humorous story saw the three seemingly on a shopping strip but it turns out that they had initially went in to ask the manager if it was okay for them to put up an advertisement for a play, having gotten distracted while doing so to the point that they has spent 45 minutes in one store and still had more to go.
- In Adventure Comics #397, college student Linda is feeling depressed, and decides she clearly needs go shopping to lift her spirits.
- The Supergirl from Krypton (2004): Supergirl has just landed on Earth, and Clark Kent takes her sixteen-year-old cousin to Metropolis so she can buy Earth clothes. She very quickly takes to shopping like a fish to water, and declares it a very fun pastime.
Clark Kent: "You certainly have the shopping part of being an Earth girl down."
Kara Zor-El: "Omigosh, that was so much fun."
- A rare male example in Everyone Loves Mob Teru literally flies over to the mall to help (gender swapped) Mob pick out some clothes. Mob takes on this trait as she dates Teru, a sign of her growing independence as she gets older.
- Zigzagged in the infamous Harry Potter fanfic My Immortal. The main character Ebony sure loves shopping for goth clothes, and this fanfiction's version of Draco Malfoy enjoys it too (although not as much as Ebony). For other teenage characters like Willow and Harry (or Vampire as this fic calls him), it's not brought up.
- In Total Drama Legacy, teenage Spoiled Brat Morgan complains that "there's no mall" on Pahkitew Island or on the Playa des Losers.
- In Girlhood, after being accepted into the popular all-female clique, Marime and the others enjoy going to clothing shops in Paris, although they steal clothes instead of buying them.
- In Mr. Popper's Penguins, Mr. Popper cheers up his teenage daughter who's sulking after a breakup by taking her to buy a dress.
- Clueless: Cher enjoys shopping and indulges in some retail therapy when she's depressed. This is further indicated by her extensive clothes closet, and she even has a computer program which helps her select her outfit.
- In The Solomon Code, the character Freyja Norjavik, though a billionaire heiress, loves combing secondhand stores for cosplay deals.
- In Skippy Dies, fourteen-year-old Lori spends a lot of time at the mall with her friends. After Skippy dies, Lori's mom takes her shopping to cheer her up, but it just makes her sadder.
- In the Animorphs books, the teenage heroes occasionally use the mall as a convenient meeting place to discuss plans, with Rachel and Cassie just 'happening' to run into Jake and Marco in the food court. In at least one book, it's suggested that Rachel really does enjoy the shopping, while Cassie's not very interested.
- In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth's two youngest sisters are in their mid-teens. Kitty and Lydia - especially Lydia - enjoy shopping; it's noted that Lydia is constantly getting money from their mother for various shopping excursions. On one occasion, when they meet up with the two eldest sisters who are returning from London, Lydia even buys a hat that she doesn't particularly like because "I thought I might as well buy it as not."
- Mall Madness is all about a group of teenagers going on a wild shopping spree, limited only by the need to periodically stop off at the bank/ATM to "top up" the otherwise-limitless funds.
- In Persona 5, most of the teenage protagonists enjoy shopping at various stores, but it's especially true for Ann. Her typical meet-up location if you want to spend time with her is the underground shopping mall, where she'll be happily inspecting the latest fashions until you arrive.
- A couple of examples in Double Homework:
- Tamara might have a very specific taste in clothing, but she does like some retail therapy when shes feeling down.
- Even though Lauren is poor, she likes to shop. She has an eye for bargains, as well as clothes she can modify to be more stylish.
- In Melody, both the title character and Sophia have fun trying on and buying new outfits, and the two of them go on a recreational shopping trip at one point during the story.
- This online article discusses the stereotype and their basic conclusion is that a lot of teens do like to shop... but so do a lot of kids and adults.
- In Arthur, Francine's sixteen-year-old sister Catherine loves shopping, as do all her classmates. Muffy, Francine's best friend, also likes to shop; in "Muffy Gets Mature", she wants to be like Catherine and her friends because she relates to them.
- Exaggerated in Daria: When several teens are on their way to a music festival, they see a sign for outlet shopping and decide to go there instead, skipping the festival.
- In The Loud House, the main character Lincoln has five teenage sisters. The oldest two, Lori and Leni, play this straight and Leni even refers to the mall as the best place in their hometown. The other three, Luna, Luan, and Lynn, downplay this— they like the mall, but not as much as their other interests.
- Downplayed in Peg + Cat: Everybody seems to like the mall, the teens just seem to like it more than everyone else. In "The Mega Mall Problem", the two female teens Mora and Tessa stopped in the middle of helping Peg and Cat just so that they could buy some bags they wanted. Jessie walked off too, but that's because he was hungry.
- Spongebob Squarepants: Pearl, Mr. Krabs' teenage daughter, loves shopping and once defined a mall to a bunch of mermaids her age as the place where you get whatever you want, which led to them chanting, "Mall! Mall! Mall!"
- All the girls in Totally Spies! love shopping at the mall and are fashionistas, especially Clover.
- Downplayed in What's with Andy?: The teens are all seen hanging out at the mall, but they don't act as if it's a huge priority.