Back-to-school sales pinched by economy

PUENTE HILLS, Calif. Shoppers told Eyewitness News money is tighter for them this back-to-school season than it was last year. Are they finding deals? Yes, but when you factor in the high price of gasoline, housing and utilities, as one shopper told us, even bargains can be out of reach.

"I had to go back to work," said Rosemead resident Gabriela Hernandez. "Last year I wasn't working because my kids were little, but this year I had to go back to work to make ends meet with my husband -- it's kind of hard for him. You can't have just one parent working at this time."

According to the Puente Hills Mall management, the number of shoppers is up nearly 20 percent over last year. However, the mall is still working on ways to not only increase foot traffic, but to also increase sales.

"Competition is always going to be stiff, but I think in this economy it's even more so, so the more specials, the more deals, the more incentives that our merchants have, the better it is, actually," said Carolyn Ramirez, Puente Hills Mall.

And with less money to spend, shoppers are carefully planning how and where they spend the money they have left over after paying for groceries, utilities and gasoline.

"Yeah, you've got to watch out for your gas, too. You can't drive too far, because you're spending that money on gas instead of on clothes for the kids, so you've got to know where you're going and know what you want," said Whittier resident Erik Smoot.


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