Combined back-to-school and back-to-college spending is expected to reach $72.5 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Some of that spending is going to businesses like Sharp School Services in Hobart, a family-owned business that offers educational resources for educators, parents and grandparents, and “anyone interested in helping a child learn,” said manager Beth Black.
“Our biggest season is certainly still the back-to-school season,” she said. “Our busiest months of the year are June, July, and August. During June and July, parents and grandparents visit Sharp for workbooks and games that will assist with summertime learning. In late July and August, the focus moves to the back-to-school season for educators as well as parents. Teachers begin to think about their new classroom and students, and parents start shopping for com position books and pencil boxes.”
In terms of the effect that the struggling economy might have on sales, Black said a change the business has noticed over the last few years is teachers are spreading their purchases over more weeks.
“For many years, back-to-school season began on Aug. 1,” she said. “Now teachers are beginning to shop in early-July and continuing through August as they stock their classrooms for the upcoming year. As a result, Sharp School Services has extended hours through Sept. 14 to accommodate our customers.”
Yanina Gomez, a school psychologist for the School City of Hammond and mother of two young children, said she loves to look for deals but time constrains impede her from hunting down bargains.
“School supplies are quite expensive and teachers often request specific items,” she said. “Although I wish I had the time to shop around to find bargains, I often settle for stores that are known for offering the best deals.”
One family-favorite site for clothes is 3cwear.com, a site founded by Gomez and her husband that partners with local and international artists to offer its customers art-inspired tops that, when bougth , part of the earnings go towards school supplies that are given to local children in need.
Gomez said her children seem to like clothes that are comfortable, trendy with cool designs yet unmatchable.
Kathryn O’Neal, of Valparaiso, is a student at Moody Bible Institute. She doesn’t have to make a lot of purchases for a dorm because her schedule is abnormal to most college students as she’s about to travel abroad to Greece for 12 weeks.
“Whenever I do shop for things, I always look at resale shops or thrift shops first,” she said. “Then I'll shop sales or use coupons I have before giving-in and buying something full price. I would definitely recommend that path to anyone and everyone.”