Back-to-school spending takes a dive
The economy continues to worry the world's grownups, and that will take a toll on student expectations this year.
The National Retail Federation estimates that parents and other guardians will spend 7.8% less in 2013's school-shopping season than last year.
The reason is simple: Many adults are worried that the economy is recovering too slowly from its worst downturn since the Great Depression. Indeed, it grew just 1.7% in the second quarter, an increase from 1.1% in the first quarter.
If you think that not particularly fast, you're right. It's painfully slow, kind of like watching paint dry.
To make matters worse, gas prices are on the rise. The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.63, a 13-cent increase from a year ago, according to AAA. The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 7.6%.
Stores are going to find it difficult to attract shoppers' attention given these circumstances.
"Retailers will not only have to make offers very attractive this season, but they will have to score an 'A+' on unique, exclusive merchandise and services that nobody else can offer," Alison Paul, a retail sector leader at the Deloitte consulting firm, said in a statement quoted by Bloomberg News.
Of course, that's easier said than done.
Many kids, not surprisingly, have different views about what they need for school than their parents. About 21% of teens identified mobile phones, electronic gadgets and computers as must-haves, according to a Capital One survey Bloomberg quoted. Only 4% of parents felt the same way.
As kids get ready to drag their parents -- or to be dragged by them, if they're like most boys -- to go shopping, expectations need to be set realistically.
Instead of buying daughters a pair of super-skinny jeans from Gap (GPS) that are on sale for $26.21, parents might push for similar jeans at Wal-Mart (WMT) that go for $12.94. Those $149 Steve Madden pumps from Macy's (M) may have to give way for a $20 pair from Payless shoes. Perhaps students might also need to hold on to their old but serviceable smartphones for another year.
Kids, if having your expectations crushed seems harsh now, just wait until you get to be an adult. It will be much worse.
--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
As a society, our priorities are jacked up.
All we need are clothes this year. I bought so many school supplies 4 years ago on clearance, that I have enough for the next 10 years.
No, smart phone either, she'll have a regular cell phone, no texting, for emergencies only. School is not a place to play games, and text all day long. Heaven forbid we might send our kids out without more distractions.
The new clothes and student supplies are just part of the story. Around here, the kids will come home with a list from the school "requesting" office supplies for the school as well. If a parent decides to pass-up the opportunity to stock the classroom, a "bill" will appear next!!
I understand they need an education, but could I at least get an employable kid back??? This is just a warm-up for what happens in college a few years from now!
gosh, if those gas prices were under bush/chaney there would be a lot of chatter about republicans in bed with big oil. funny, the media says nothing about obama/biden being in bed with big oil. just sayin'
hey, america how is the hope and change workin' for ya?????
My kids will have to do exactly what I had to do if they want something out of the ordinary. Ill budget them with whatever I feel they need clothes, sneakers, etc. But if you want an upgrade from the $30 sneakers im buying you get a job and pay the rest. $110 sneakers? no problem. Heres $30 the rest is on you.
Cell phone? Not a chance - heres one that has 4 buttons - mine, the wifes, fire dept., and police dept.. Have fun. Want a smart phone? Save up, buy it yourself and the contract. You are not going on the family plan nor am I co-signing.
Car? Nope. Heres a bus pass. You want a car buy it along with the insurance.
Parents who provide smartphones to their teenagers shouldn't cry broke when their cell service bill exceeds necessities, such as food, insurance, transportation, etc. Why does a kid need a cell phone in school anyway? Teens get designer clothes, new electronic toys, new cars, while their ignorant parents file chapter 7. No wonder this country is **** backwards.
How is a child supposed to show up as school with ANYTHING from last year. What about their self esteem. Schools may be forced to drop a math course in order to repair a students self esteem. The Administration should send out clothing and backpack vouchers redeemable at Abercrombie, etc.
Seriously, parents lavished stuff on their kids in exchange for time. Now that they don't have jobs the time is there but not the money. Once parents spoil their kids rotten there are only a few rules to remember. Don't feed them after midnight and don get them wet.
Hope nobody is wondering why, Its Obama's economy now, and it is worse than when he took office more than 4 yrs ago, that makes it ALL HIS and surprise for many, its just the way he wants it.
The Obama permanent campaign is still deceiving the public.
"...it (the economy) grew just 1.7% in the second quarter, an increase from 1.1% in ."
Actually, that first quarter growth was originally claimed to be about the same as this second quarter claim - until it was revised downward. The same thing as happened the quarter before that.
It's the Obama modus operandi. Roll out improvements to an economic metric with great fanfare and then quietly revise it downward a few weeks later.
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