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Back-to-School Shopping on Hold?

Back-to-School Shopping on Hold?

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?

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Read more: Blogs, Children, Conscious Consumer, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, Smart Shopping, Teens, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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11:36PM PDT on Sep 14, 2012

I think it is the best time for buying the clothes we can save our money if we prefer to shop during sale.

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6:11PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

Unfortunately the economy has become totally dependant on people spending more than they earn. It's not a sustainable situation and, fortunately, people are learning to conserve and re-use rather than always buying new. When you take a good hard look at what you really need (rather than what 'they' want you to buy) life can be just as comfortable on much less spent !!!

5:08AM PDT on Sep 3, 2012

Hi, I saw your blog first time. And I like shopping very much. It is enjoyable one. I love it. Thanks for sharing.

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7:13PM PDT on Sep 2, 2012

so true

4:58AM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

I suppose the youngsters need something to cheer them up and take away the back-to-school blues. What's annoying is the older they get the more difficult they get when it comes to wardrobe choices (if you're to believe them, ALL their friends are geared up with the latest designer labels and you wouldn't want them to be the ONLY ones without, bla-bla-bla). Sigh...

12:22AM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

Thanks Eric for sharing.

11:14AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

Nancy P, that's nothing-I was in Jo-Ann's Fabrics last week getting some fabric remnants for a couple of quilts I'll be making this winter, and I saw CHRISTMAS merchandise out already!

To quote my older daughter at age 3 in Wal-Mart nearly seven years ago: "HELLO!!!! It's AUGUST!!!!"

I'm not telling my kids about this-she actually screamed that to the ceiling in Wal-Mart when we went there in SEPTEMBER that year and she saw holiday stuff out already, so you know this will make the kids insane!

10:26AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

Consumerism; how about "back to school" shopping in August amist Halloween decorations....all about spending money.....

4:28AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012


3:54AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012


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