Back-to-school shopping for my child this year consisted of replacing his tattered, undersized backpack with something slightly larger and decidedly newer, and laundering and spot cleaning his lunch box back to a state of acceptability. As far as new clothes, accessories, and the like, we could wait until the seasons change and a new fall wardrobe becomes essential. But bear in mind, he is six. I certainly will not be expected to get away with this sort of lackadaisical parenting (and consuming) when he is 16. But for now, he remains in his summer clothes and he knows no better, nor no different.
To be sure, “back-to-school shopping” has become very much a national consumer phenomenon, with advertisements and invitations materializing as early as mid-July. Back to school sales of various forms of merchandise make up a huge part of annual retail sales (not as much as Christmas, but a close second). But seemingly I am not alone in my reluctance to partake, for various reasons.
According to a recent New York Times article, it seems what used to be a given, with bazillions of dollars changing hands for new back-to-school fashions, and supplies, is now becoming something that many are opting out of or simply biding their time and waiting for sales and discounts to set in. The Times reports that lackluster sales thus far may stem from a desire to get the trends right. But retailers and analysts say the sluggish economy and unusually hot weather have also made for a surprisingly slow start to the back-to-school spending season. “If people do not go to stores once schools start, it will be bad news for an economy heavily dependent on consumer spending to stay afloat.”
Yikes! Remember when then President George H. Bush purchased tube socks in the ’90s to stimulate the economy? Well, if your teenager doesn’t buy $150 worth of accessories from Hot Topic before the first day of school, we may all be in the dumps.
I am not an economist, so I could make light of the situation, but no doubt parents out there are, at the moment, being coerced into some requisite spending on back-to-school gear. What are you compelled to buy, or not? Do you feel the pressure to restock on both necessities, as well as un-necessities, is really merited? How do you justify it all?