Back to School Shopping in Full Swing

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Back-to-school shopping is well underway, as New York City parents and children prepare for the start of school on Thursday.

Top ticket items this year include clothes, accessories, and electronics, according to an analysis by the National Retail Federation. The group said parents are likely to spend hundreds of dollars on each of those items.

And for many the season of back-to-school shopping has extended past the last weeks of summer to a project lasting several months, according to a recent article in the New York Times. The Times also featured a local store in Fresh Meadows that draws loyal customers for its annual school supplies sale.

For many spend-thrifty parents, back-to-school shopping is a balancing act between meeting the desires of their children and the constraints of their budget.

“The newest sneakers, those are kind of pricey,” said Jewel Lukas, from Rosedale, Queens, during a visit to the Lake Success Shopping Center in New Hyde Park, Long Island.

“I might get them, like, one pair of what they really want, and then we have to, you know, get some lower priced ones to supplement that with,” she said while on a shopping trip with her five-year-old daughter and her 16-year-old son.

She said her daughter’s already more difficult to shop for.

“Even though she’s only five, girls are definitely tougher,” she said. “She’s a diva, she likes accessories and shoes, you know, numerous pairs and this type to go with this outfit and all of that. Girl stuff.”

Lukas said another added cost this year is the growing list of supplies parents are being asked to buy for the classroom.

“It’s like shopping for home now, just doing it for the classroom,” she said, adding that wipes and paper towels are on the list.

Sayra Vaughn of Cambria Heights, Queens, was also buying classroom supplies, in addition to school uniforms and clothing for her two sons. The younger one goes to PS/MS 147 in her neighborhood.

“They ask for towel, Kleenex, anti-bacterial,” she said. “Some of the school supplies are really, the lists are getting bigger and bigger every year.”

This issue was one SchoolBook covered extensively in the spring. With school budget cuts, rising expenses and grander ambitions for student activities have come higher costs for sending a child to a New York City public school. SchoolBook asked parents to tell us about their school-related spending. Journalists followed up on the hundreds of responses we received, resulting in a series of reports on SchoolBook, in The New York Times and on WNYC. You can find previous reports here.