MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s time to start thinking about back to school shopping and this year that list will probably look a lot different.
According to a survey by Deloitte, back to school spending in the U.S. this year is expected to total about $28.1 billion, or $529 per student, about the same as last year. That survey also shows more of that money will be spent on technology and hygiene & cleaning products.
The Alabama Retail Association expects many more people to use technology to get their shopping done instead of going to stores in person.
“People are going to school in various ways. They are going to be shopping in different ways,” said Nancy Dennis, Director of Public Relations for the Alabama Retail Association. “Whereas they would probably go out and stand in long lines to shop for school supplies and school items, they probably won’t do that this year. So there’s going to be a lot of ordering online for pickup and curbside, all those avenues that have been going on since March will continue to be the way people are going to be shopping for this particular school tax holiday.
The association and its members are preparing for people’s anxiety over in-person shopping and say locally owned stores may provide better service and smaller crowds.
“It’s really important to shop at those local retailers. That’s a good way to avoid the crowd. If you need some things, it’s a good idea to go to those mom and pop retailers in your town to get your paper, and your clothes and shoes, and computers,” Dennis said. “And look at how they’re doing things. Do a little research beforehand. They may be having hours that they’re open early and open later. It’s always better to shop during those non-peak times. And that’s true every year.”
Retailers depend on back to school shopping every year to boost their bottom lines, and this year may be even more important to small, local businesses.
“This is a big time for them. They’re expecting that people are going to be buying school uniforms, they’re going to be buying paper, they’re going to be buying all of those things at this time of year. So please do take advantage of that, and it’s really important to keep those local businesses open and they need your support at this time, " said Dennis. “They’ve done really well and they’ve kept their business up and the businesses that are still open are doing fairly well. Customers have grown accustomed to this way of shopping and the retailers are very grateful for that. We’ve got to shop smart and shop safe, and so that’s most important for both retailers and consumers.”
Alabama’s back to school sales tax holiday runs July 17-19. Find a full list of tax free items for that weekend, and which cities and counties are participating here.