Back to school shopping is big business

Steve Lyon
The new school year begins for
kids throughout the county from
Weiser to Cambridge this week
and next.
Parents are frantically wrapping up
the back-to-school shopping,
and they are spending more
money these days.
The National Retail Federation
reports record spending
this year. The retail trade
group gets its annual numbers
from a survey. Total
spending for K-12 schools
and colleges combined is
projected to hit $80.7 billion.
Not a bad payday for the Targets
and Walmarts.
Families with children in
elementary school through
high school plan to spend an
average of $697 this year. That’s up from
$685 last year.
Parents with college students are expected
to spend an average of $976, an
increase over last year’s $942.
According to the shopping survey,
clothing and accessories will top the
expenses of K-12 families, followed by
electronics, shoes and supplies.
College shoppers plan to spend the
most on electronics with an average of
$234. I don’t know how they came up
with that number. That won’t buy much
in the electronics department at any store
I have visited of late.
Clothing and accessories
are next on the college students
shopping list, followed
by dorm and apartment furnishings
and food items. Almost
half said they planned
to do most of their shopping
One interesting trend that
has surfaced over the past
few years is the increasing
number of teens in the “Generation
Z” age group that are
spending more of their own
money on back-to-school
items. They are becoming
more involved with purchasing decisions
rather than leaving the choices up
to mom or dad.
Back in the day my two brothers and I,
without a whole lot of enthusiasm, went
shopping with mom for back-to-school
clothes. We picked out a couple of pairs
of corduroy pants and a knit shirt or two
at Falks ID store in Idaho Falls, a store
that was as boring as the clothes it sold.
I don’t think we ever spent more than
$40 or $50 in the 1970s. Throw in another
$7 or so for a haircut at Brad’s Hair
Styling and we were good to go. Just a
trim of that summer shag and keep the
part perfectly down the middle.
Besides the clothes, we bought a few
No. 2 pencils, a spiral binder and a protractor.
What else did we need in those
pre-laptop days?
In a sign of the times, kids today are
wearing jeans with the holes already in
them. I don’t think we could have gone
out the door wearing ripped jeans. Instead
of the status symbols that highend
jeans are today, they would have
conveyed a different message.
Mom would have taken one look at
those jeans and frowned with disapproval
at the holes in the knees. “I don’t have
any patches that large. Toss them in the
trash,” she might have said.
That’s not to say we didn’t have our
own fashion rules. We could be trendy
too. Remember when you had to have
those acid-washed jeans that had the
worn look from the factory? They were
all the rage.
Steve Lyon is the editor of the Weiser
Signal American. Contact him at


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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