December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Teens still prefer the mall

Teens access the Internet to check e-mail and spend a lot of time online in other activities but one thing they are not doing is buying.

Teens are one of the biggest markets because they have the most disposable cash but a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers says teens are not buying online. The foremost reason: they have no way to make purchases. “They don’t have access and availability to credit,” says Mary Brett Whitfield, director of the PricewaterhouseCoopers E-Retail Intelligence System.

Retailers need to alert consumers that alternative payments are available, like RocketCash and DoughNET. “There are a lot of alternative payment methods,” says Whitfield. “The awareness and visibility of these need to be heightened.”

More than one-fourth of teen Internet users regularly go online to shop but only 2% claim shopping is their primary reason for using the Internet. Of teen Internet users, 38% access the Web more than once a day, compared with 52% of adult users. Another 24% connect once a day, while 8% access the Internet less than once a week.

Teens are doing many shopping related activities, signing up to receive e-mail or online newsletters, reading articles such as CD/movie reviews, celebrity interviews or fashion advice and searching for stores carrying a particular brand or product. And some 31% of teens with Internet access have purchased a product from an online shopping site vs. 76% of adult Internet users. Another 25% of online teens have shopped online, but have never made a purchase.

According to research, there isn’t much difference between teen and adult purchases. The top categories for teens and adults are the same: CDs/cassette tapes, clothing, books, software and toys.

“E-retailers have the opport-unity to develop methods to ‘e-commerce enable’ teens,” says Whitfield. “Prepaid online spending accounts take the risk from parents who hesitate to give teenagers access to their credit cards, while giving teenagers budget responsibilities.”

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