Back-to-school a boost for retailers
Aug 12, 2012 (Menafn - The Dominion Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Pencils, wide-ruled notebook paper, backpack, tennis shoes and a laptop are just a few items that make up any given back-to-school shopping list.
"It's one of our busiest times," said Elise Askenazi, Office Depot communications manager.
Morgantown Mall General Manager Harry Grandon said the backto-school season is the second busiest behind the December holiday season.
According to Askenazi, the shopping influx generally begins in late July and is over by the beginning of September.
Although there is no tax-free shopping day in West Virginia this year, Grandon said parents who "do their homework" can still save significant amounts of money during the competitive retail season.
"A lot of children drive the economic bus in families," he said. "But the things parents can do is shop early and then do comparison price shopping."
Grandon suggests visiting store websites to find coupons and promotions.
Office Depot, for example, runs "penny saver" ads on a few products at a time, such as folders or composition notebooks, Askenazi said. She said an easy way for parents to save money is to spread school supply shopping out and only buy items when they are on sale.
Comparison price shopping is made easier at Best Buy because of their price-match guarantee said Chuck Reha, general manager.
"If you are shopping around, bring us the ad and we will match that price," he said.
Another money-saving option geared toward more expensive electronic items is bundling.
Askenazi described bundling as receiving an extra item or two when purchasing a large-ticket item such as a computer. And it's most common during the backto-school season.
Reha said bundling can save consumers 20 percent to 30 percent compared to buying items individually.
Office Depot is offering three laptop and tablet bundling options and Best Buy is offering laptop and programing bundles.
In addition to bundling, Best Buy offers financing options for purchases more than 149.
Reha said those looking to save money on electronics while back-to-school shopping should also be open to buying a model that isn't brand new.
"Whenever a new technology is introduced the prices of the previous models begin to drop," he said.
Not all stores see an increase in sales during the back-to-school season, though.
Contemporary Consignment associate Julie Miller said the store does not see any change in August and September. She suspects it is because young kids are often embarrassed to wear secondhand clothes.
But families looking to shop at Contemporary Consignment can expect prices 50 percent to 70 percent below retail prices, Miller said. And she said Contemporary Consignment is not the average consignment store.
"Not everything in here is used, we do have a number of items that still have new tags on them," she said. "We have nice stuff, we're really picky. We take the higher name brands."
What kind of impact does this shopping season have on a community that is so closely linked to a university?
Forty percent of Monongalia County residents are going to school, said Christiadi -- he doesn't use a first name -- a demographer with the WVU Bureau of Business and Research. But this doesn't have the impact some might anticipate during the back-to-school season he said.
Shari Miller of Newark, Del., said she saves money during back-to-school shopping by putting off buying a new fall wardrobe for her son before school starts.
"He'll still be in his summer clothes for a while," she said. "There's no point buying the fall and winter clothes until you get a little bit closer to when you need it. Just get what you have to."
Chris Ferrell, of Morgantown, said the item he will spend the most money on during back-to-school shopping is uniforms for his daughter.
Lorene Lilly, of Fairmont, said she is almost finished with back-to-school shopping for her daughters. Book covers, three ring binders, notebooks, sneakers and uniforms were on their list this year.
"For school supplies, see what's on sale and buy those products," Lilly said.
Because most WVU students go home for the summer they do most back to school shopping where they live instead of in Morgantown, Christiadi said.
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