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Spending a boost for local retailers

Shopping
Aug. 01, 2013 @ 12:19 AM

HUNTINGTON -- With lists in hand, 30 kids and several volunteers marched through the doors of Target in Barboursville on Wednesday morning to start back-to-school preparations for the 2013-14 school year.

They were selected to participate in the Target School Shopping Spree early Wednesday morning at the Barboursville Target -- a team effort between Target and the Salvation Army, through which each child received an $81 Target gift card. Volunteers from the Huntington police and fire departments, as well as Olive Missionary Baptist Church pitched in to help the kids shop for things like socks, shoes and school supplies.

To see the community outreach and the support from Target is incredible, said Major Matt Riley of the Salvation Army, and he hopes it will not only help the kids be prepared with the correct supplies but boost their spirits and confidence for the start of the school year.

"It's good to provide goodwill in the community and give kids the resources they need to succeed in school and reach their potential," said Alex Proctor, executive team leader at Target in Barboursville.

It's just one sign that back-to-school shopping is in full swing, and retailers are hoping for a busy season.

Lauren Herman is looking for a busy August and September at Finds & Designs in Heritage Station, as college students come back to town and are furnishing new apartments. Jim Brumfield, president of Glenn's Sporting Goods in downtown Huntington, said his store saw an uptick this week as Tri-State Youth Football and Cheerleading started.

"It's a marathon, and the race is starting," Brumfield said, adding that back-to-school is as big as Christmas for the store at 11th Street and 4th Avenue. "On Aug. 1, our summer comes crashing to an end."

Kids and their parents will be coming in to buy new shoes and new sporting gear in the next couple weeks, he said, and when Marshall starts back, the kelly green apparel will start to disappear from the racks -- especially before the first two home games.

According to the National Retail Federation, shopping trends are expected to take a small dip from last year, which was a record year nationally.

"A combination of pent-up demand and a growing population of school children put 2012 back-to-school spending in the history books, leaving parents in 2013 with an array of school supplies that still work, and a significantly shorter shopping list," the federation said in a news release.

The federation's 2013 Back-to-School Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, indicates that families with school-age children will spend an average of $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down from $688.62 last year.

Total back-to-school and back-to-college spending combined will reach $72.5 billion, the federation reports.

"The good news is that consumers are spending, but they are doing so with cost and practicality in mind. 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 news release. "As they continue to grapple with the impact of increased payroll taxes, Americans will look to cut corners where they can, but will buy what their kids need. It's important to note, however, that spending levels are still well above where they were a few years ago."

The biggest portion of back-to-school shoppers' budgets will go toward new apparel and accessories. Eight in 10 shoppers indicated they'd adjust their spending plans this year because of the economy, and 36.6 percent say they'd do more comparative shopping online and 18.5 percent will shop online more often.

Much like families with children in grades K-12, college students and their parents will trim their budgets this year as well, looking for ways to reuse what they have and spend only on what they need. According to NRF's 2013 Back-to-College survey, college students and their families will spend an average $836.83 on apparel, electronics, dorm furnishings and more, down from $907.22 last year. The largest portion of college shoppers' budgets will go toward electronics ($203.28).

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