Families hold back on school shopping

A woman shops for school supplies at a Target store in Daly City, Calif.

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: Those of you with kids don't need me to remind you what season we're in. No, not summer. Back-to-school shopping season. It's the second biggest shopping period of the year behind Christmas. Or at least it's supposed to be. But with just a couple weeks til school begins, it's more like recess.

A survey out today from the National Retail Federation says the average family still has a lot of room in the backpack for items on the back-to-school shopping list. Tamara Keith reports.


TAMARA KEITH: Ah, back-to-school shopping. The mechanical pencils and glitter pens. The latest sneakers, that perfect outfit to wear on the first day of school. But, only if it's on sale!

Ellen Davis, vice president of the National Retail Federation says parents won't be pushed this year.

ELLEN DAVIS: They want to make sure that kids have everything they need. But the days where a kid goes and points at everything they want and the parent puts it in the shopping cart are over.

Davis says families that were surveyed plan to spend about $550. That's $50 less than last year. A third of families haven't even started shopping yet. You can put Northern California mom Tammy Rae Scott in that category. Her son will be a second grader, and her daughter is going into 5th grade.

TAMMY RAE SCOTT: We have a couple of weeks, and I think I can slam dunk it in two days.

Scott says clothes are a must, particularly for her fashion conscious daughter.

SCOTT: They need stuff for the winter, and they've both outgrown things that they wore last year.

This is what retailers count on. Adrienne Tennant is a retail analyst at FBR Capital Markets. She specializes in the stores where teenagers shop.

ADRIENNE TENNANT: Abercrombie, American Eagle, Pac Sun, Hot Topic.

She says there are some distinctive trends pulling teens into the stores: plaids, the boyfriend shirt, skinny jeans.

TENNANT: There's some reason to be optimistic, but I won't tell you that price is not key. I mean it's all about the guy who can give you the best value, the right trend, at a decent price.

And if history is any guide, the deals will keep getting better the closer we get to Labor Day.

In Washington, I'm Tamara Keith for Marketplace.

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