by Amy Wicks
WWD/Thomas Iannaccone It's that time of year when the fitting rooms at your local department store are full of girls trying on potential prom dresses. I don't know about you, but I have such wonderful memories of prom. I wore a vintage cream-color dress (with gloves--I know) and dark blue Stuart Weitzman shoes that I have to admit, I still pull out from time to time. The whole look cost around $400, and at the time I thought that was kind of extravagant, but it turns out I have nothing on the girls who are attending prom this year. A new survey from Visa found that on average, families will spend $1,139 on prom this year. This figure is up 40 percent from 2011, when they spent $807.
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When I saw Visa's report, I figured that large increase in prom spending was probably tied to buying fancier dresses. It turns out the answer is more complicated than that. "In today's world, teenagers and young adults have lost most of their discretionary buying power," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group. He told me that after a year of being frugal, this is the one day when families will give their teens the ability to splurge. "This day is second only to their wedding," Marshal said.
Marshal went on to say that prom today could be compared to the movie Footloose. These kids had to abandon dancing altogether and when they finally got it back, they could do it but be more responsible. He said prom is back in a big way, spending-wise, but even this $1,139 figure doesn't mean they are spending irresponsibly. "It's like the movie--they are going for it but being more careful."
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That's not to say girls aren't spending more money on dresses and sometimes buying at least two pairs of shoes (one for the dance and one pair for afterward). But transportation and restaurant costs add up too.
Do you remember how much you spent on your prom? Does this figure sound crazy to you? Discuss!
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by Amy Wicks