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SoCal Parents Keep Back-to-School Spending in Line

Families plan to pay about $200 or more on supplies for their children, a survey finds.

August 15, 2003|Ronald D. White | Times Staff Writer

Concerns about the economy and the state's budget crisis are prompting Southern Californians to keep a tighter rein on their back-to-school spending this year, according to a survey released this week by the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche.

Nearly two-thirds of the 234 families who were surveyed said that they would spend about $200 or more to prepare their children for school, about the same amount they spent last year, according to the survey.

Parents in Los Angeles said they would spend about $243 on back-to-school supplies, compared with an average of $253 last summer, while Orange County parents said they would be more frugal, spending about $232 compared with $250 last year.

Although retailers would prefer to see sales increases, the relatively small drops "can be taken as a positive note," said Jackie Fernandez, a partner at the Los Angeles Consumer Products, Retail & Services practice of Deloitte & Touche.

Much of the spending on back-to-school supplies will be at conventional retail stores. About 17% of those surveyed said they would buy over the Internet, down from 20% last year.

"People are definitely more budget conscious and more careful about what they are spending this year," said Ken Armstrong, manager at an Office Depot store in Los Angeles.

Julie Inouye, a Playa del Rey resident whose daughter Chandler is starting middle school, said she was only doing moderate shopping now until she knew exactly what her daughter's teachers wanted, rather than guessing and wasting money.

"We'll wait until the teachers give us a list," Inouye said. "And we're looking for bargains."

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