Parents poised to spend more for back-to-school, forecaster says

Parents poised to spend more for back-to-school, forecaster says

July 09–Parents are likely to shop and spend more this year as they prepare their children to head back to school, Chicago-based ShopperTrak said Tuesday.

The Chicago-based firm that monitors retail traffic expects August retail sales across the country to rise 4.3 percent from last year. Foot traffic in stores and malls is predicted to rise less than 1 percent.

This uptick could be a sign the economy is slowly, yet steadily, rebounding.

It also has the potential to set the tone for the holiday season, said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “The economy is, in many ways, stronger than it was last August. We expect that the 2013 season will continue the growth trend of both retail sales and foot traffic,” he said in a statement.

Last year, retail sales were bumpy, with consumer confidence low and uneven unemployment gains. Still, shoppers delivered sales gains of 5.9 percent and foot traffic was up 11 percent from 2011.

This year, with unemployment lower than it was during last year’s back-to-school shopping season and consumer confidence on the rise, even more people are expected to be spending for school supplies and clothes. And they won’t be simply bargain-hunting as they did during the recession, according to ShopperTrak.

Martin said he expects to shoppers to be willing to “shop around” for what they want — beyond the big discounter retailers this year. “On the whole, more people feel better about their financial situation than they did last year in August,” said Martin. “Parents are ready to spend on their children’s school necessities.” — Twitter: @corilyns