Back to school on a budget

A girl goes back to school shopping for pens.

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: The school bells will be ringing soon, if they're not already. But so far, the back to school shopping season doesn't have the cash registers ringing that much. Nancy Farghalli has this report.


Nancy Farghalli: As you know, in fashion . . . I'll let Heidi Klum of Project Runway finish:

Heidi Klum: One day you are in and the next day, you're out.

Thanks, Heidi. Here's the bad news for retailers: a lot of them will be way out this shopping season. Most consumers say they're cutting back on back to school spending.

Stacey Janiak is the head U.S. retail analyst for Deloitte:

Stacey Janiak: The consumer mood that we see for back to school is just, you know, a struggle with just stretching the dollar.

And Janiak says the struggle will force kids to choose between the high end and the low end.

Janiak: So if they want that pair of True Religion jeans, they'll get that but then they're willing to forgo multiple pairs of shoes and they're willing to shop at lower price stores.

Where you can get everything. Wal-Mart and Target are expected to cash in because they sell clothes and school supplies. That means fewer trips in the car. But stores like American Eagle and JC Penney are also cutting prices on t-shirts, jeans and other basics.

Tracy Johnson is with her two daughters at a Los Angeles mall. Her clothing budget is $200 And her daughter, Lisa, knows her mom won't budge.

Lisa Johnson: It sucks, because I really want it sometimes.

Tracy Johnson: I love my daughters. I'm weak for them. But I have to think within price range, too. It's like it costs a lot of money for clothes.

And teens are onto that. Brandi Stansbury runs consumer focus groups for companies. She says now it's hip to hunt for bargains. Teens want to shop at discount stores.

Brandi Stansbury: The more things you can get the better. I mean its fun to walk away with bags and bags of things.

But the back to back school battle doesn't end there. No wardrobe is complete without the right tech accessory.

Stansbury: It's going to be cool to go back to school with the new iPhone or the new Blackberry. So many teens have Blackberries now and are pretty much are running their social life like Fortune 500 companies.

Well, without the golden parachute.

I'm Nancy Farghalli for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Farghalli is an editor at Marketplace.

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