NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Every generation has its own cultural imperatives and for the Millennials (20s & 30s) it is presently showing up in securities like Sears Holding (SHLD), RadioShack (RSH) and Market Vectors Coal (KOL), among others. Down the road, it will become even more apparent in auto stocks such as Ford (F) and General Motors (GM). Unlike previous generations of Americans, the Millennials are establishing their identities in manners that are bearish for the automotive, retail and coal sectors.
A study by the University of Michigan reported that the Millennials do not rush to get their drivers license at the age of 16 like previous Americans. Cars used to mean freedom, individuality, and serve as extensions of the owner's personality. Now brand name consumer electronic devices such as an Apple (AAPL) iPhone and robust social media presence courtesy of Facebook (FB) are replacing cars as expressions of individuality. That is showing up in sales as this age group is buying about 30% fewer automobiles than other generations.
While that is negative for the future of the motor vehicle industry, it is showing up even more in the retail sector at the present.
If the Millennials are not obtaining licenses to operate motor vehicles or buying cars from Ford or General Motors, then they are not heading off to the malls to go shopping. That is easily seen by how much shopping mall foot traffic has plummeted. It is much, much more obvious in the collapsing stock prices of stores that populate the malls such as Sears, RadioShack, and J.C. Penney (JCP). That same iPhone or laptop that so establishes the Millennial personality also allows for shopping online and home delivery via Amazon.com (AMZN).