When the main drag of a store becomes filled with five-subject notebooks, glue sticks, erasers, pencils and organizing systems, it all points to one thing — it’s time to start filling those dreaded school supply lists.
Just days after Fourth of July displays are dismantled, uniform shirts in every color, accompanied by racks of khaki pants, soon overtake the swimsuit aisle.
Beach ball and palm tree displays are replaced with layaway signs and racks with school supply lists are unavoidably placed near the front of the store for parents like me.
It shouts that the lazy days of summer have slipped away, and that each time I walk into the store school supplies must be addressed.
The dreaded part is the pinch that our budget will feel once we slap down hundreds of dollars for school supplies, electronics and clothes before opening day in August.
Families in general are expected to spend about $630 this year on clothes, supplies and electronics for their school-age children, according to a National Retail Federation survey. Combined, households will spend about $24.9 billion nationally.
That’s about right for my household of three children, ages 13, 10 and 8. All of my children have grown this summer, and most of last year’s uniforms are faded or too short to continue wearing.
We’ve budgeted about $80 to $100 per child on supplies and other miscellaneous school fees, and probably another $300 for school uniforms, undergarments and shoes.
The National Retail Federation’s survey found that families will spend an average of about $97 on school supplies and about $200 on electronics.
Shoppers like me who opt to wait until a week or two before school starts make up about 30 percent of all shoppers.
About 19.6 shoppers start two months before school and 42 percent will shop at least three weeks before school. Early shoppers said they do so to spread out their spending, avoid crowds and to take advantage of bargains and promotions.
My choice of shopping venues also falls in line with the survey’s shoppers. About 56 percent will head to department stores and another 62 percent will buy from discount stores, some 54 percent will shop at clothing stores, 22 percent at electronics stores and 36 percent at office supply stores. Some 36 percent indicated they will shop online, and most will take advantage of free shipping offers.
There may be a small spending break for parents this year. The federation’s survey found that pre-teens plan to pitch in about $17 of their own money and teens about $33.
Count my children among them. They will be using earned gift cards to buy small back-to-school items.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.