School stockup

When it comes to back-to-school shopping sales numbers, 2012 got high marks. This year is looking more like a C average.
Marie Havenga
Aug 17, 2013

The National Retail Federation predicts families will spend an average of $634.78 on clothing, shoes, supplies and electronics. That's down from $688.62 last year.

Total spending is expected to hit $26.7 billion. If you add in back-to-college sales, that number soars to $72.5 billion.

While the retail association says it will be hard to reach last year's numbers — which were boosted by pent-up demand after an economic slump and a growing population of school-age children — Tri-Cities-area store owners and shoppers say the cash registers are ringing as loudly as last year.

“I just spent a pile of money with my grandkids,” said Barb VanSchelven, who works as a clerk at Dockside Clothing in Grand Haven.

VanSchelven said she takes her grandsons from Florida shopping every August to help out her daughter, who is a single mom. The boys — Jack, 17, and Aaron, 11 — picked out T-shirts and shorts at a downtown store.

“The younger one, this is the first year he doesn't have to wear a uniform, so he's delighted to buy all that,” said VanSchelven, who spent about $125 on each boy.

Shoes were not on the shopping list this year, otherwise VanSchelven estimates she would have plunked down another $70 to $80. Instead, the boys went for bright-colored T-shirts.

“They go to school in Florida, so they can wear T-shirts and shorts,” she said. “That's what they buy every year.”

T-shirts, backpacks, hammocks and skateboards are top-sellers this season at Buffalo Bob's in Grand Haven.

“The kids are buying hammocks like no other,” said owner Jill Hutchinson. “They hang them in the trees at different levels.”

Buffalo Bob's has sold more than a hundred hammocks this year. Hutchinson said she has to order more of the colorful slings every week because she can't keep them in stock.

Presumably, students are buying them to study in, right?

“They call it 'mocking,'” Hutchinson said. “I think they're going to take them to school and hang them up wherever they can find trees. I see people buying more of what they want this year than what they need.”

But sales of school staples remain strong, she said. Burton and Dakine backpacks are hot items. Kids come in to test them out, and Hutchinson and her staff provide filler material to simulate textbooks.

“A lot of them struggle trying to find something to hold all their books,” she said.

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



I've noticed that online shopping has become very popular. I'm not really used to it, I wish I could read more about it because I'm a marketing student. That would make a difference.


We are impressed with the attention to detail and the professionalism of the back-to-school iteam we've seen so far. It reminded me of GLN Consulting and their office. They have prevented theft from our sites as well as being courteous but firm with potential clients and visitors who try to enter the site without authorization.


When it comes to returning to school after the summer vacation, you should definitely do shopping not only for books but also for clothes. The stores are full of college students who are trying to keep the steps with the new trends. However there is a large part of people who prefer online shopping as it is more comfortable and it may also help you to save money. For instance, last year, I've bought some great clothes from an online store for my daughter and I also found some awesome nursing uniforms for me on that I couldn't rezist to buy. I did a great deal as I paid less than if I were to buy all those items from the local mall.


I love shopping and I am buying very often clothes and accessories. I am going to the nursing school and this year, before the school started, my parents bought me some awesome Cherokee scrubs. Moreover I've also bought shoes and clothes as I want to look great when going to school.


When it comes to going back to school after a long vacation, teenagers especially girls are doing shopping as they want to look gorgeous. My sister is at college and she has already started to buy clothes and accessories for the next school year. She has bought a beautiful necklace from and some other nice accessories.


The majority of us enjoy doing shopping as it relaxes us. My sister and I are always doing shopping before the school starts and we like to buy fancy clothes and comfortable shoes. Actually I am going to click now on a link that my friend gave me where she said I can find some nice shoes.

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