Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Analysts Predict Slow "Back-To-School" Season For Retailers

Hamilton Traditional School

A typical list of school supplies from Hamilton Traditional School in South Bend

A report from our partners at National Public Radio on the state of “Back-To-School” shopping.

For retailers, it’s the second “most wonderful time of the year” next to the holiday shopping season. But analysts say low consumer confidence means spending this summer will probably be lackluster.

Last month, aggressive discounting and falling gas prices did bring in more business for department, clothing and discount stores.

But Chris Christopher, an economist with IHS Global Insight, says recent dips in consumer confidence mean shoppers will be more tentative about their purchases.

“Consumers and parents don’t feel very optimistic about the future,” Christopher says.

June’s dismal jobs report also dampens the outlook for this year’s back-to-school sales. Christopher says retailers should expect only a modest bump from back-to-school sales by the end of summer.

This may be particularly true in Indiana, where parents are being asked to take on an increasing burden when it comes to paying for their children’s education.  A number of cash strapped districts have started asking guardians to pay for everything from bus fees to textbook rentals.  In Franklin Township, for example, bus service has been partially converted to a pay-as-you-ride system similar to how regular public transportation works.

Many of these new charges are the result of either state-level funding cuts or alterations to the way that specific services are paid. These include several major changes to Indiana’s property tax code that include have eliminated many sources of local revenue.  Along with removing the sources of funding, the state has also increased the amount of money that can be shifted from one fund to another.  Essentially allowing schools to use money allocated for construction, transportation, or bus replacement to pay for teachers.


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