Early Back-to-school Shoppers Snagging Great Deals, Selection

August 5, 2018
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Early Back-to-school Shoppers Snagging Great Deals, Selection

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — They say the early bird gets the worm and that’s especially true when it comes to back-to-school shopping.

With many area students returning to school later this month, some have started their shopping while the selection of merchandise is still plentiful and the deals are good.

Consumers who shop early said they like to take advantage of sales and to avoid the rush closer to when classes start so there is less risk of items being out of stock.

At JCPenney at the Wyoming Valley Mall, Brenae Slusser of Berwick shopped for back-to-school clothes for her 8-year-old daughter Sophia, her 5-year-old son Ivan and her 4-year-old daughter Skye.

Slusser said she finds the sales are good now for fall clothes.

“Finding the right sizes later is always a problem if you procrastinate,” she said.

Maggie Zoeller of Nanticoke also found good deals as she shopped for shirts for her granddaughters, Megan Laskoski, who is going into seventh grade at Crestwood High School and Jillian Laskoski, who is going into fifth grade at Rice Elementary School.

“We look for the sales,” Zoeller said. “You want to get it quick before it’s gone. You could go online and order but I’m not really an online shopper. I want to see it and feel it.”

Amanda Marko of Plains Twp. bought a backpack marked down at half the price for her 5-year-old daughter Lydia who is starting kindergarten at Bear Creek Charter School on Aug. 20. By shopping early, Marko said there is “less stress.”

According to the National Retail Federation, about 77 percent of back-to-school shoppers start early, at least three weeks before classes begin.

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $684.79 for each child on back-to-school merchandise. That’s the third highest total in the history of a back-to-school shopping survey it conducts each year.

Those with young people heading to college as well as college and graduate students purchasing for themselves plan to spend an average of $942.17 for each student.

According to the survey, back-to-school shoppers plan to spend the most on clothing, about $236.90.

Shoppers will spend about $187.10 on electronics for each child such as computers, calculators or phones; $138.66 on shoes and $122.13 on supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunch boxes.

The top destinations for consumers shopping for back-to-school items are department stores, 57 percent; online retailers, 55 percent; discount stores, 52 percent; clothing stores, 51 percent and office supply stores, 35 percent.

Since Sears has closed and Bon-Ton is closing at the Wyoming Valley Mall, JCPenney has seen an uptick in traffic, general manager Ryan Walsh said.

To entice shoppers, JCPenney has been offering a number of incentives and back-to-school promotions including $10 haircuts for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade at the newly renovated salon on the second floor of the store.

The store also is offering “Bonus Bucks” events on weekends in August. For every $50 spent, a customer receives a $10 off coupon.

With many schools having dress codes, JCPenney and other stores offer a large selection of uniform clothes like polos, khaki, navy and black shorts and pants that are popular sellers.

“They get re-stocked every day,” Walsh said. “We can fit from toddler up to high school age students, including special sizes including plus size and husky size. If we don’t have a size because some sizes are more popular, we could order them and get it to them really quickly.”

Active clothes and denim also are popular sellers, Walsh said.

In all, total spending for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and college nationwide is projected to reach $82.8 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

“With the economy thriving thanks to tax reform and growing consumer confidence, we expect to see a very strong season,” said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay. “College spending is expected to be at its highest level ever and back-to-school will be one of the three highest years on record. Whether shoppers buy now or wait until the last minute, retailers are ready with everything they need for a successful start of the school year.”

Contact the writer:


570-821-2115, @CVAllabaugh

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