Back-to-school spending down this year - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Back-to-school spending down this year

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Back-to-school spending has dropped this year, as parents try to compensate for higher taxes.  

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), families with school-age children will spend about $50 less on back-to-school shopping this year, falling from about $688 in 2012 to $635 in 2013.

"Having splurged on their growing children's needs last year, parents will ask their kids to reuse what they can for the upcoming school season," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Parents are spending less because of economic uncertainty, according to Madison College's Fashion Marketing Director Betty Hurd.

"Back-to-school spending is a little bit slow and also a little bit less," Hurd said. "It's better than it was last year…but people are still nervous. There's the increase in income taxes so that really affects the bottom line for the family."

Monday, the Madison Metropolitan School District announced a property tax hike of 4.5 percent in order to compensate for a $9 million cut in funding from the state.  

"It's normally a frantic time, but actually this year has been calmer than in past years," said James Sherman, store manager of Walmart on Madison's west side.

Sherman says the week preceding the school year is normally the store's second busiest time of year, behind the holiday season. However, people seem to be concentrating on buying basic, low-cost supplies such as notebooks, pens, pencils, and other difficult-to-reuse items.

"There's a huge resurgence in the Goodwills and St. Vincents, second-hand stores, discount stores, and dollar stores when people are looking for anything from school supplies and apparel," Hurd said.

When it comes to other school items, Hurd says people are reusing supplies to save money.

"That's huge: just reusing, re-purposing -- just getting the little add-in items that can make a difference, Hurd said. "It's not the complete overhaul with all new stuff."  

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