Sunday, May 19, 2013
Skinny jeans in bright colors and prints. Ankle boots. Zebra-striped pants and staplers. Flash drives that look like Angry Birds and Matchbox cars.
Top to bottom, first row: Candie’s ankle boots (Kohl’s); Rockadelic Sunday deck boots (Kohl’s); Mountainside backpack (L.L. Bean); second row: Locker chandelier (Staples); Mudd plaid cadet hat (Kohl’s); Cheetah laptop tote (Staples); third row: Critter pack (L.L. Bean); SO skinny zebra knit jeggings (Kohl’s); fourth row: SO five-pocket color skinny pants (Kohl’s); zebra stapler (Staples); Angry Birds flash drive (Staples).
Photos courtesy of Staples,Kohl’s and L.L. Bean
THE AVERAGE PERSON with children in grades K-12 will spend $688.62 on school clothes and supplies this year, up from $603.63 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $30.3 billion.
PARENTS WILL SPEND the most on clothing, accessories and electronics. Parents estimate they will spend an average of $246.10 on clothes and $217.88 on electronics.
SPENDING ON SHOES will average $129.20, and spending on school supplies such as notebooks, pencils and backpacks will average $95.44.
ALMOST 85 PERCENT of consumers say the economy will affect their spending plans in some way. More than half of those surveyed said they would shop sales more often.
PEOPLE ARE SHOPPING earlier this year to help spread out their spending on back-to-school items.
TEENAGERS WILL spend more of their own money this year. Even 6- to 12-year-olds will be reaching into their own pockets more, spending on average $25.63 on what they want for school, up from $15.12 last year.
SIXTY-THREE PERCENT of parents say their kids have at least 50 percent of a say in what they buy.
– Survey from BIGinsight, conducted for the National Retail Federation
DEALS AND DISCOUNTS FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPERS
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE isn't exactly sky-high this year. Back-to-school shoppers are expected to buy more clothing and supplies, but not necessarily more than they absolutely need. So retailers are coming up with creative incentives, aggressive discounts and promotions to lure customers into their stores. Here are a few examples:
STAPLES HAS a Back-to School Savings Pass customers can use to save 15 percent on their purchases throughout the season. The pass costs $10, and is good for one use per day through Sept. 15. It does not cover technology such as computers, flash drives and calculators.
BRING IN an old binder to Staples, and you'll get $2 back instantly on a new binder.TARGET
CUSTOMERS WHO shop at Target with their REDCard will receive 5 percent off their purchase and free shipping.
TARGET WILL also donate a portion of a customer's purchase to the school of their choice.
SEARS IS promoting its policy that allows online shoppers to pick up their purchase in their local store the same day.
MACY'S "Be Book Smart" campaign, a partnership with Reading is Fundamental, asks customers to make a $3 donation to RIF. Customers who make the donation through July 31 receive a coupon for $10 off an in-store purchase of $50 or more.
MACY'S IS also sponsoring spelling bees in 27 locations begining Aug. 25. Prizes include an iPad and a $100 Macy's gift card.
CUTE AND CUDDLY COMFORT DEALS
GOT A LITTLE ONE headed off to kindergarten or the first grade for the first time?
CHECK OUT THIS Huggalo doll for kids suffering from separation anxiety and first-day-of-school jitters. The doll was designed by Donna Broder as a way to help her own son adjust to the transition.
EACH HUGGALO DOLL -- a ballerina for girls and a superhero for boys -- has a frame on its tummy where a family photo goes to provide comfort and solace in the child's strange new environment. Each doll costs $19.95 to $24.95 at huggalo.com.
These are just some of the hot products that back-to-school shoppers will find waiting for them on store shelves this summer. Retailers say that, after a couple of years of holding onto their wallets, parents and kids will hit the stores in droves in August in search of bargains and the latest back-to-school fashions.
A new survey from the National Retail Federation estimates that the average person with children in grades K-12 will spend $688.62 on school clothes and supplies this year, up from $603.63 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $30.3 billion.
"Backpacks rip, pencils break and children grow, there's no way around it," said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, "but as they begin tackling their shopping lists, parents will make sure to spend smarter than they ever have before."
Chris Holdredge, a member of the merchandise team at L.L. Bean and former manager of the company's Kids Division, said this is the first back-to-school season in a long time where independent research is giving industry trade groups "a lot of optimism."
"People have held back for the past few years," Holdredge said, "and now is the year to kind of start replenishing items."
What will customers find on the shelves?
Bold denim in the form of skinny jeans and jeggings are everywhere, in bright colors as well as flowery or fanciful prints, such as the red plaid "London Calling" made by Princess Vera Wang for Kohl's department stores.
Kohl's has hired "Glee" star Lea Michele to hawk shoes to students, including trendy ankle boots that can be worn with skirts, shorts, skinny jeans and dresses.
For girls, the stores will be filled with blends of the masculine and feminine to create menswear-inspired looks. That means motorcycle jackets with pleated skirts, structured blazers over skinny denim, and lots of houndstooth and herringbone patterns.
At Macy's, this girl-meets-grunge style shows up as destroyed denim and studded leather jackets for daytime wear, followed by lace dresses in soft colors at night.
And studs, by the way, are a hot embellishment for guys this year as well. They're on shoes, jackets and fedoras.
Lucky for Maine students, one of the trendiest looks for guys, according to Macy's, is preppy Ivy Leaguer-meets-shipyard worker. Scour the local department stores -- or your dad's closet -- for pea coats, Henleys, dark-rinsed denim and lug sole boots.
Denims in bold colors and ankle boots are just as plentiful in guys' closets this season as they are in girls' wardrobes.
Another trend that's crossing gender barriers: Tribal looks, animal prints and faux fur.
Nature-inspired prints are always in vogue at L.L. Bean, but graphic tees, girl's skorts and backpacks featuring activities like mountain biking and images of woodland and sea creatures are big this year.
DURABILITY IS KEY
Time-crunched parents of younger kids are looking for durable, versatile clothing that can transition easily from the schoolyard to the backyard, Holdredge said.
"We all know as soon as kids get off the bus, the backpack is thrown down and they're running into the closest backyard to play on the swingset or throw the football around," he said. "It really has to have that durability, because I don't think many kids come home from school and change into their play clothes. We really tried to speak to that in how we designed the product, how the fit is so that it is roomy and appropriate as well."
Holdredge said that when it comes to both clothing and school supplies, L.L. Bean is drawing on its century of experience as an outdoor retailer and incorporating some of its trail-tested features into its back-to-school backpacks, apparel and outwear.
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