Patricia Zaragoza, 9, checks her back-to-school shopping list at a Target store.
Patricia Zaragoza, 9, checks her back-to-school shopping list at a Target store. - 
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Jeremy Hobson: Well here in this country this week, we'll find out how some of the big retailers did last quarter. Companies like Macy's, Kohl's, Nordstrom and JCPenney. But those earnings reports will only tell part of the story.

As Marketplace's Krissy Clark reports, early back-to-school sales are pretty revealing, too.

Krissy Clark: One of the biggest trends this year in back-to-school shopping is that it pretty much started as soon as school ended. The commercials and sales began weeks ago.

Commercial: Kohl's biggest back to school sale! Friday through Sunday!

Nancy Koehn is a Harvard professor who studies the retail industry.

Nancy Koehn: Back to school is like in the middle of beach season!

And the early start is working. Just look at the thousands of videos that tween girls have already been posting about their back to school "hauls."

Girl in video: I know school starts in September, but I went shopping!

So why the mid-summer back to school push? Jen Drexler is a consumer trend expert at Insight Strategy Group.

Jen Drexler: Every store had to start early this year because they're afraid that the customers won't come.

And back-to-school shopping might be the perfect excuse for pent-up shoppers who are sick of being frugal, says Harvard's Nancy Koehn.

Koehn: Oh boy, here's a good reason to open up my wallet and take out my credit card.

Koehn says the question is whether the back-to-school bump will be big enough to mean anything to the economy, so maybe next year back-to-school can start a little later.

I'm Krissy Clark for Marketplace.

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Follow Krissy Clark at @@kristianiaclark