Parents shopping cheap for school supplies

August 5, 2011 7:00:20 PM PDT
The weak economy means a lot of families are reassessing how much they'll spend on back to school items this year, and that has one major retail group expecting a drop in sales.

People are out doing their back to school shopping now, but they're being very particular about what they buy and how much they pay for it.

According to a survey released by the National Retail Federation, about 80 percent of Americans say the bad economy will impact their back-to-school purchases.

"I hit the clearance rack first," said shopper Rosalind Longwood. "Then I go for the regular-priced stuff."

Dollar Tree in Pleasant Hill is a first stop for many in the market for the best buys on pencils, notepads and binders.

"Just knowing the prices every year, from buying 'em for the last 17 years, I know the Dollar Tree's cheaper," said shopper Crystal Timms. "Why pay more when you can pay less?"

According to the survey, American families with school-aged children will spend an average of $603.63 on clothing, school supplies and electronics this year, which is about $3 less than last year.

At the Gap store in Concord's Sun Valley Mall, school uniforms are hot sellers along with blue jeans, jackets and other basics. When asked if she found people are being more cost-conscious, Gap store manager Linda Lingh said, "Definitely, especially with this down economy. Customers are looking at prices, trying to see if we have any great promotions going on."

Beatrice Santos bought school supplies for four school-aged children. She says she's more careful this year than she was last year. Her son, Jacob Santos, is hoping for a new backpack this year.

Pleasant Hill's Monument crisis center has collected about 400 backpacks so far for local students who may otherwise go without. They are hoping to collect at least 400 more within the next few weeks.

"We're still seeing 100 new families per month, and all those families are going to need school supplies and whatnot for their kids," said Sandra Scherer with the crisis center.

Anyone wanting to donate backpacks to the Monument Crisis Center can contact them at or call (925) 825-7751 ext. 105.

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