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July 24, 2012

Expert: Back-to-school buying starting now

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Retailers can expect back-to-school shoppers to be gearing up right now, says Richard Feinberg, a Purdue University professor of consumer sciences and retailing.

Feinberg says consumers typically begin back-to-school shopping three to four weeks before the school year begins. In some parts of the county, school opens in mid-August.

But driving even earlier sales is the move to Internet shopping.

"It's likely half of consumers will do some back-to-school shopping online," Feinberg says. "And those shoppers will start early to allow for shipping time. That probably moves up the start of their shopping by at least a week."

Back-to-school is second only to the Christmas holiday season in importance to retailers. Feinberg estimates it will be an $84 billion season this year.

Helping fuel sales are relatively lower gasoline prices, he says. "Every penny saved on a gallon of gas translates to $1 billion dollars available for retail spending."

Feinberg says two of the biggest products for back-to-school are backpacks and laptops. "Spending on electronics will be almost as high as apparel," he says.

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Source: Richard Feinberg, 765-491-5583, xdj1@purdue.edu