Monday, August 25, 2008

Economics 101

Two new articles discuss the economics of going back to school this year for kids and parents.

The Washington Post Some Parents Struggling With Back-to-School Buys by Jenny Song discusses the advent of a low-cost school year.
Charles Lane-Bey combed through racks of blue jeans at a Salvation Army thrift store and held up a pair with potential to his 8-year-old son, Edward, who swung them over his shoulder with a smile.

Forty-seven cents for a sturdy pair with white and red stitching. Not bad if it'll last all school year.

"A couple of years ago, I was able to buy everything practically new," said Lane-Bey, a U.S. Postal Service worker who's struggling to make ends meet. "You just have to do some things different to adjust."

With cash tight and fuel and food prices high, many parents are eyeing back-to-school lists warily, looking for bargains and buying used clothes. In some cases, they're even thinking about sending their children to school without all the supplies they need.

Thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army say more parents and teachers are shopping at their stores nationwide, quickly snatching up school uniforms and supplies.

Goodwill sales nationwide were up 6.2 percent for the first six months of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007, and are also expected to be up for the back-to-school season, spokeswoman Lauren Lawson said.

"We've seen an increase in terms of clothes, school supplies, broken-in sports gear. It's a great way to get brand name styles for cheaper," she said.

Melissa Temme, a national spokeswoman for the Salvation Army, said traffic and sales are up, although the organization doesn't have firm numbers yet because stores submit official reports only once a year.

"It's not just the working poor, we're also seeing more middle class families coming to us," Temme said.
Rick Green recently commented on the issue of school supplies in Supply This points us to similar conclusions.

For teachers in many schools this will mean being sensitive to school projects that would normally require a trip to buy expensive presentation boards and additional supplies.

Parents these days are strapped for cash and projects that recycle older materials will be the in thing to do.

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