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Holiday season worries weigh on teen retailers

The Associated Press

Shares of a number of teen retailers fell Wednesday after Abercrombie & Fitch painted a bleak picture for the holidays.

The operator of Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister stores said late Tuesday that young shoppers are not spending money like they used to and that its sales fell in its most recent quarter. Its forecast for the year ending in January disappointed.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. shares fell 11 percent to $33.96 by early afternoon Wednesday.

While analysts say the company has had difficulty finding the right products to resonate with young shoppers, investors are worried that its bigger concerns may indicate difficult times ahead for all teen retailers, particularly as the critical holiday shopping season approaches. Retailers can make up to 40 percent of their annual income around the holidays.

Teen retailers have been struggling with weaker spending by young consumers, who are feeling the effects of the still difficult economy. They also are a notoriously fickle group, with limited money to spend on clothes and accessories. This has been particularly difficult for retailers based in malls, where traffic has been soft.

Brean Capital analysts Eric Beder and Danielle McCoy said that it is "obvious that near term the entire teen sector will remain under material pressure."

Here's a look at how other teen retailers were faring amid a modest gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. shares fell 3 percent to $14.77

Aeropostale Inc. shares fell 8 percent to $8.46

Buckle Inc. shares fell 61 cents, more than 1 percent, to $48.84

Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. shares fell 2 percent to $2.53

Wet Seal Inc. shares fell nearly 3 percent to $3.20

Express Inc. shares fell nearly 3 percent to $23.01