They're waiting to shop
While retailers started rolling out back-to-school merchandise and promotions in July, few reported strong sales traction in the latest round of earnings. But all hope is not necessarily lost, as many retail analysts believe consumers are waiting to buy "closer to need."
None of these eight teens have truly started back-to-school shopping for clothing or shoes.
Eighteen-year-old Andrew Chegwidden is getting ready to begin his first year of college, and his reasons were practical. "My text books costs so much—I want to see what I have left for clothes … the clothes I have will do for now."
For most of the girls in the group, holding out on purchases had more to do with trend-watching.
(Read more: Busting the myth of the back-to-school tax holiday)
"I like to wait and see what people are wearing in school, and then I adjust," explained 14-year-old Elisabeth Steinberg. Her friends all agreed.
They're looking for value
Even though many of the teens said it was their parents footing the majority of the back-to-school clothing bill, they were acutely aware of prices, and kept at least loose budgets in the back of their mind as they shopped.
The teens all said they were contributing at least some of their own money from part-time jobs as babysitters, referees and from chores, so sale prices caught their attention.
"I like the Gap. They have nice product and the prices aren't too bad," said 17-year-old Brianna Mott.
Nearly everyone agreed the prices at Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch are too high. When shopping at American Eagle, the general consensus was prices are reasonable, but $35 for a lounge-wear sweatshirt was just too much.
The boys compared sneaker prices, and agreed that $100 is about the limit for new kicks.
"If you spend too much on sneakers, you're not going to have enough for the other stuff," said Chegwidden.
All eight understood that the further they could stretch their parents' money, the less they would have to pitch in to cover the difference.