2016-08-12 / Editorials

The start of the school year has retailers smiling


With triple digits still in the forecast, summer may not feel like it’s over. But there’s no denying that mornings of sleeping in, afternoons at the beach and evenings staying up late will come to an end before we know it.

Simi Valley Unified School District classes begin Wed., Aug. 17. It’s time to get back into a routine. Early to bed and early to rise makes students happy, healthy and wise, or something to that effect.

While some children and adults may have mixed emotions about the dawning of a new school year, there is one group surely glad to see school buses crisscrossing town again: retailers.

That’s because this year’s back-to-school spending is expected to top $78.5 billion, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation. That’s $10 billion more than Americans spent last year.

One of the biggest contributing factors to the rise in spending is a recent population bubble: Members of the sizable millennial generation are now sending their kids to school, the report said.

The federal agency reports that families with children in grades K-12 will spend an average of $675 per household on back-to-school clothes, electronics and supplies.

As for those parents with college-age children, they’re spending about $888 per household, which is down just slightly from last year’s average of nearly $900.

What’s staggering is that over the past 10 years, Americans have increased their backto school spending by nearly 55 percent.

Experts say that has a lot do to with greater confidence in the economy. We think it might also have to do with the proliferation of tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices that have replaced the ever-faithful No. 2 pencil as a mainstay in the classroom.

Families will spend more than $8 billion this year on electronics for K-12 students, a sum that would have been unimaginable a generation ago, when Casio and Texas Instruments ruled the classroom technology front.

It’s worth noting that families with college students will spend $11.5 billion on electronics in 2016.

Clothing, at $9.5 billion, was the largest expense in 2016 for Americans with K-12 students, while college kids spent just under $7.5 billion on apparel.

Though spending remains high, it appears families are seeking the biggest bang for their buck, taking advantage of early sales and bargain hunting at dollar stores and online.

We wish administrators, teachers, parents and students a very successful start to the school year. Hopefully our wallets will recover in time for Christmas.

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