This summer, Dylan Wallach's elementary school is offering a pre-
packaged bundle of school supplies to make back-to-school shopping
easier on families.
But the Clayton fifth-grader and his mother, Cindy, decided
instead to hit the stores themselves so they could pick out the
"It's a fun tradition," said Cindy Wallach as she stood near a
wall of rainbow-colored markers and crayons at the Walmart store in
Yes, it's that time of year again - time to pick out glue sticks,
composition notebooks and superhero-themed backpacks.
To help parents, Missouri holds an annual sales tax holiday,
which runs Friday through Sunday, on certain items such as
computers, software, school supplies and apparel. Illinois is not
holding a similar event this year.
While students may not yet be ready to say goodbye to the summer,
retailers are all smiles about the impending arrival of the new
school year, which marks the industry's second-biggest shopping
event of the year after the winter holiday season.
Coming on the heels of lackluster sales during this summer's heat
wave, this back-to-school shopping season is forecast to be
significantly bigger than in recent years.
Part of the boost is because of demographics: There has been an
increase in the number of families with school-age children. But
parents also are tired of skimping and making do with what's already
in their children's closets as they've done the past few years, said
Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation.
"You can only go for so long with a ripped backpack and the now-
out-of-date electronics you've got," he told reporters during a
recent conference call.
Parents are expected to spend an average of $689 on their
children in grades K-12 and $907 on college students - up 14 percent
and 12 percent, respectively, from last year's estimate, according
to the National Retail Federation. Total spending is expected to be
According to the deal-tracking website dealnews.com, August is
typically the best month to get promotions on back-to-school items.
With Missouri's upcoming sales tax weekend, some retailers are
trying to lure more shoppers by sweetening the deal with extra
For example, Sam's Club won't charge nonmembers the typical 10
percent upcharge in its Missouri stores or online this weekend.
Office Depot will keep its Missouri stores open later than normal -
until midnight on Friday - with a special coupon for $10 off a $50
purchase of supplies between 9 p.m. and midnight.
Owen Torres, a company spokesman, said the retailer wanted to do
something special this year because it has had such "overwhelming
response" to tax-free weekends in previous years.
"It's an extra convenience for shoppers," he said of the extended
hours. "We have parents who are working (during the day) and
customers are busy during the summertime."
Not surprisingly, parents are planning to do more of their back-
to-school shopping online this year, with about 40 percent of
shoppers saying they plan to do some shopping online, compared to 31
percent last year, according to the National Retail Federation. …