Coupons and discounts will be the hottest styles for back-to-school shoppers this year.

Summer is not even half over, but retailers throughout the Southland are gearing up for back-to-school season with new youth fashions, nifty office supplies and steep bargains.

"All eyes are shifting to back-to-school -- it's the only catalyst where consumers have to go out and spend between now and the holiday shopping season," said Ken Perkins, president of research company Retail Metrics Inc. But "you look at things heading into the season, and the macro picture on the spending front isn't promising. It's really going to be need-based, bargain-based, discount-based shopping."

The depressed economy will cause 85% of Americans to make changes to their back-to-school plans this year, according to a survey released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation trade group.

The average family with students in kindergarten through high school is expected to spend $548.72 on back-to-school merchandise this year, a decline of 7.7% from $594.24 last year, the survey found.

Total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $17.42 billion.

Source: Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-back-to-school15-2009jul15,0,2866418.story