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Families find deals for back-to-school shopping

August 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Families spend hundreds of dollars on back-to-school clothes and supplies, and in these tough times they're looking for ways to stretch their dollars.

But the rising cost of labor and materials is driving some clothing prices higher.

In the next few days, hundreds of students will be heading back to the classroom. But before they do, their first stop will be at malls and retail stores to get the latest look for the new year.

"Just shopping around, you know looking for clothes to impress the ladies," said Upland resident Keith Fujita.

And while students are concerned with dressing to impress on the first day back, mom and dad are more concerned with the bottom line.

Suzie Sciambia drove in from Orange County to the Ontario Mills Outlet Mall to do all her back-to-school shopping.

"The economy is not as great as it use to be," said Scaimbia. "As a parent with a lot of kids in the family, you really have to watch your dollar and make sure you get the most for your money."

The month or so before school starts is the second largest consumer season behind the holidays.

According to the National Retail Federation the average family will spend $600 on back-to-school items. And with the economy weighing heavy on shoppers minds retailers are offering up discounts, coupons and other incentives to reel in customers.

"They're like 50 percent off," said Pomona resident Monserrat Naranjo. "Some of them are buy one get one free. There was one store where it was buy one get one for a penny. It's pretty cheap."

Or is it? According to retail experts the clothing being sold in stores may actually cost 15 percent more than last year.

They point to increases in cotton prices and labor as the reason.

"Retailers have known that they were going to have these big increases in cotton and labor rates for about six to nine months," said retail expert Lori Wachs. "So when they started planning the manufacturing of these goods, they figured that they would try to put the increases partially through to the consumer."

Which is why when shoppers look to spend they are willing to go the distance to find a good deal.

The National Retail Federation says combined, back-to-school and back-to-college sales are estimated to bring in a total of $68 million.

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