Next week, Lawrence public school children will be returning to school with the usual supplies. This year, however, the supplies might not be name brand and students might not get every single item on the district’s list.
According to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 Back to School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, the average family with students in elementary and high school is expected to spend 7.7% less on school merchandise than last year. That’s a total of over $17 billion.
“We always believe bring what you can,” said Nancy DeGarmo, the principal at New York school. “Bring those really important things - paper, pencil, crayons. We’ll all work together to make it through this time.”
Another way to get by is just by remembering what you learned in kindergarten.
“If I don’t have scissors, I’l share my scissors with you. We’ll get by,” said DeGarmo. “I think we are all aware of the economy right now and the stress that’s put on families.”
But some local retailers are still gearing up for a big weekend, the last before classes start.
“It’s almost a holiday of sorts,” said Hy-Vee perishables manager Chris Wiltfong. “Not only is it just school supplies, but it’s school lunches, it’s after school dinners and things like that. We definitely see a change of business.”
Wiltfong said students still need supplies, but this year, they might not be brand name.
“They’re buying more of the generics or store brands, but they still have to have it,” he said. “You can’t write without a pencil.”
Julie Heatwole and her Quail Run school third grader, Mariana, were on the hunt for things on the supply list at Target on Thursday morning.
“I would say second grade actually had more supplies needed, so I’m more relieved that third grade seems to be a little less,” Heatwole said.
Mariana is ready to doodler her way through another school year and is most excited to get art supplies, maybe with a touch of Disney.
“Mostly I like Hannah Montana,” she said. “I just like all different types of arts and crafts and stuff like that.”
While Heatwole said she tried to make school supply one stop shopping, some items aren’t easy to find.
“Sometimes it happens that we have to go hunting,” she said. “We go to various places in the end.”
But it’s also a chance to spend some quality time with Mariana before she heads back to school.
“It’s actually something I look forward to doing with my daughter, just her and I,” Heatwole said.
Classes resume for all Lawrence public school students on Aug. 13.