EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Columns

August 13, 2012

Column: Why retailers love it when summer starts to wane

Just under 80 million students, kindergarten through grad school, are heading back to the classroom. Some of them surely worry whether their education will get them a job and whether they’ll be able to pay for that education.

But these are gloomy thoughts for another time. Back-to-school is a happy time -- especially for retailers, who expect to take in $83 billion equipping and outfitting the young scholars.

The National Retail Federation says that back-to-school is the year’s second biggest spending event after the Christmas holidays and that consumers spend more than on Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Father’s Day combined.

Americans went through some lean times and had to cut back on school spending, but retailers’ figures show they are still willing to open their wallets for their school-age children.

The average person with K-12 children will spend $688 to get a youngster ready for school, the federation predicts. That is up markedly over last year’s $603. The federation’s economists are reluctant to call this a sign that the economy is coming back, although signs point in that direction. They say it is due more to parents replenishing and replacing clothes and supplies from those lean years.

There was a similar healthy increase in outlays for college students, an average of $907 versus $808 last year.

A federation official said, “If it’s one thing the economy has changed, it’s how people shop.”

For starters, they’re beginning to shop earlier to spread out costs. They are more attentive to sales and promotions, and they shop at discount stores and favor stores’ private labels.

Increasingly, they shop online. About 40 percent of parents and students will shop the Internet, nearly double the 21 percent who did so in 2007 and almost quadruple the 10.9 percent who did so in 2003.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
Columns

NDN Video
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts
Photos of the Week