Lacking a reliable fashion sense, I asked Mary of The Recessionista Blog where she’s back to school shopping, what the biggest deals are, and how parents are stretching their dollars at thrift stores.
How is the economy affecting back to school shopping? There are people in this economy doing more back to school shopping at Goodwill and the Salvation Army. There are a lot of items that are new with tags on them from the department store. I saw good sneakers in the box, good jeans, tops.
How do you talk to kids, who are often very brand conscious, about shopping at second hand stores? I didn’t see the kids with the parents. If it comes new with tags from Target, most kids are going to be very accepting of that. This isn’t, ‘I picked up some hand-me downs.’
Are parents convincing their kids to re-use last years goods? Oh yeah. If it’s not stuff they’ve physically outgrown. You can go to school with the same backpack. I know parents who’ve told their kid, ‘You don’t need a new computer. You don’t need more gadgets to do your work.’
What are retailers doing to entice customers? There are deeper discounts to get people in to buy. Price is becoming more and more the decider. There are more and more sales. There are more and more coupons. American Apparel is doing this bundle thing. If you go into the brick and mortar stores, buy three items and get 15% off. The bigger deals are online. You’re going to get 35% off bundles of shorts, hoodies, underwear, Oxford shirts, and skirts. It helps the merchant clear out their inventory. They don’t want too much hanging out that they’ll have to mark down later.
What stores and websites do you turn to for back to school deals? I like Kohl’s. They have an interesting mix of items that are pretty trendy and then there’s more traditional stuff. Kohls is having a fantastic back to school sale right now on backpacks, jeans, and different kind of separates that can make up uniforms, like twill pants, chinos, oxford shirts. GapKids has some really tasteful stuff. Macys is having a passport sale every week on their website, so it’s on sale already, then you get the Macys passport reduction.
Are you doing much back to school shopping online? A little. I like NexTag, where you can bring everything up and get a price comparison. I like Amazon.
What sales have surprised you? There are incredible deals on laptops. This deal for a Bamboo laptop with Windows 7 – if you buy it on Amazon you get free shipping and a $150 gift card from Amazon. That saves you money for extra back to school items like backpacks and jeans.
Any fashion “must haves” this year? The kids are always going to want jeans and khakis. Those are probably the top trend and items for clothing. One thing I like is the imitation of the french navy marine shirt. It’s a white tee with blue stripes going horizontal, not vertical and instead of a rounded collar it’s got more of tea-leaf collar.
Any other fashion trends? The hoodie is back. There’s a little vintage vibe going on with newsboy caps and argyle sweaters. That’s very 1930s look. Pleated skirts are back.
Is anything a necessity? A good pair of shoes and a good backpack. They don’t need that much. Eventually most parents are going to have to get their kids a good jacket. There are a few staple items and then it’s just a question of how much parents want to spend.