— Five-year-old Cayden Richey had one criterion for
his new back-to-school shoes: They had to be fast.
last week with his college-age sister at Famous Footwear
in suburban Baltimore, the soon-to-be kindergartner
slipped on a pair of Skechers, dashed down an aisle and
a corner, Nora Wach, 7, remained undecided in her search
for just the right shoes: probably flats, but maybe
year before school, I get her a pair of shoes," and
the third-grader can be particular, said Karen
Ceanfaglione, Nora’s grandmother.
the back-to-school shopping season ramps up, it’s not
surprising that the tastes of even the youngest pupils
play into purchases for school. According to the
National Retail Federation, a growing number of parents
say their children influence as much as half of their
probably have far more sway than parents want to admit
to in their purchasing decisions," said Ken
Perkins, a research analyst with Retail Metrics.
"But … everybody has a budget. And at the end of
the day, what you’re going to buy is going to have to
fit into that."
retail sales have slowed this summer, retailers are
counting on a boost from back-to-school shopping, a
category that has seen a 42 percent jump in spending
over the past decade, the retail group said. The season
starts as early as July and stretches through Labor Day.
with tax-free holidays that crop up in many states this
month, the period has become the second-biggest time of
year for many stores after the holidays.
the back-to-school period, "tax-free holidays are
second only to Black Friday," said Scott Markley, a
spokesman for Wal-Mart.
year, the nation’s largest retailer has rolled out a
new line of Casemate school supplies and expects its
children’s movie-themed backpacks, lunchboxes and
notebooks, adorned with characters from
"Minions," "Frozen," "The
Avengers" and "Jurassic World," to be
National Retail Federation’s school spending survey,
released last month, showed that parents expect to trim
their spending this year. The average family with
children in grades K-12 plans to spend $630 on
electronics, apparel and other school needs, down from
$669 last year, according to the survey, conducted for
the NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Total
spending is expected to reach $24.9 billion.
much of that spending will be driven by students’
NRF’s survey shows that more than three-quarters of
parents say children have a direct influence on up to 50
percent of their purchases. That’s up from about 72
percent of parents who answered that way two years ago.
survey, by the market research firm Mintel, found that
one-third of back-to-school shoppers said children have
a strong influence on items they purchase and nearly 40
percent of parents said they end up spending more on
products for their children than when they are shopping
percent of parents with children ages 6 through 11 said
they sometimes or often ask their kids for their opinion
when buying clothing for them, Mintel’s survey said.
Wee Chic Boutique in suburban Baltimore, owner Bridget
Quinn Stickline has filled the shop with apparel that is
attractive to young customers — graphic T-shirts,
vests and Under Armour athletic pants, shorts and
is self-expression," Stickline said. "Even if
kids can’t explain that to you, they relate to certain
colors and certain prints, and if you hold up a T-shirt,
they’ll pick one."
children get spending money of their own, they become
more likely to spend to prepare for a new school year.
Roughly 1 in 5 preteens is expected to spend his or her
own money, nearly $77 on average. And about two in five
teens will chip in nearly $82, according to the NRF
fashion-savvy kids are very much committed to starting
the school year with the best locker decorations and the
best sneakers and the best graphic T-shirts, and if mom
and dad only agree to buy a few of those things, they
are going to be sure to go in for the rest of the items
they want," said Kathy Grannis Allen, an NRF
spokeswoman. "These teenagers and pre-teens …
really want to have a role in what they wear and what
they show up to school with."
are expecting a highly competitive season. In a recent
Retail Metrics report showing that few retailers beat
sales expectations in July, Perkins noted that sales
gains likely will be difficult to come by during the
school buying season.
consumer remains particularly cautious," Perkins
said, even as economic news has improved in some areas,
such as auto sales. "Consumers are not seeing much
in the way of wage gains."
Lapadat, a stay-at-home mother of three, said she
started school shopping in mid-July to try to stretch
out her spending. Lapadat and her daughters, ages 8 and
6, and son, 3, strolled Target’s school supply section
last week, stopping at bins filled with colored pencils,
crayons and folders. She had already spent about $300 on
book bags, supplies and shoes.
we still need clothes," she said. "We’re
doing this little by little, rather than one big
amid the economic ups and downs, Stickline said sales at
her Wee Chic shop have risen in each of the past few
"need something new every year," she said.