Who will save the mall? Teens -- duh.

The battles never seem to let up for the American institution that is the mall. Like everyone else in the retail world, they've got ups and downs with consumer spending to contend with. But then there's the rise of e-commerce and those trendy outdoor shopping plazas -- how's a cavernous complex with a fountain and a Mrs. Fields to compete?

The recession has made that question more pressing than ever. The answer is, and always shall be: teenagers.

So at a time when things are looking pretty dismal for mall retailers (see today's Wall Street Journal, (subscription required) which describes how stores like Ann Taylor are haggling their mall landlords over rent), it would be wise for the lessor and lessee to work together to capitalize on their most loyal clientele.