Back to school trends include healthier snacks, electronicsWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Back-to-school shopping symbolizes the end of summer vacation, but it also means kids can count on stores offering the latest trends from healthy snacks to stylish jeans.
U.S. consumers are expected to spend $39 billion on back-to-school shopping this year, up from $37.9 billion in 2010, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).
This translates to more foot traffic at local stores.
“I noticed we have very early guest traffic,” said Katja Classic, an assistant manager at Target, 817 W. Alexis Road. She added that customers have been shopping for basics like scissors, pens and glue, “very, very hard.”
Target spokeswoman Kristy Welker recommended using these basics to show some flair. “Backpacks and stationery are the best ways to show off a little personality this school year,” she said in email, citing backpacks, messenger bags and lunchboxes in bright colors or animal prints.
Not so basic items like Smartphones and laptops also are selling well this season, said David Peterson, Meijer spokesperson. “I’ve noticed an uptick in that.”
Electronic sales are estimated to account for $5.5 billion of back-to-school sales, up from $5.4 billion from last year, according to the ICSC. From 2009 to 2010, back-to-school electronic sales jumped 19.2 percent.
Customers are also for searching for clothing essentials at stores like Target and The Andersons. Back-to-school clothing projections are at $21.7 billion from $20.9 in 2010, according to the ICSC.
Many shoppers are purchasing school uniforms and “durable types of items” from brands like Dickies, said John Hoover, director of marketing for The Andersons.
Fashion items also prevail this season. Peterson and Laura Good, a sales manager at the Westfield Franklin Park Mall Dillard’s, both said they noticed lots of jeans with heavy embellishments or stitching on the pockets. Flared jeans also made a comeback, although Good noted, “You’ll still have skinnies.”
Allover denim is trendy at Kohl’s this season. “Denim is breaking out of its ‘bottoms-only’ role, with head-to-toe denim as the must-try trend for back-to-school,” said David Hacker, vice president of trend and color for Kohl’s, in a press release.
Hacker also recommended playing with proportions this fall by pairing long skirts with “skimmer tees” or shorter tops. “Back-to-school fashion plays with layers, length and volume to create a new silhouette,” he said in the release.
Good said looser tops that create a boxy silhouette are in this season. Dillard’s also presents teenage girls with a selection of shirts and blouses with ethnic prints, ruffles and lace, Good said, while colored denim is popular for teenage boys.
Fashion boots that girls can tuck skinny jeans into will be another fall staple for Meijer and Dillard’s. The Council expects back-to-school shoes to make $7.1 billion, compared to $6.9 billion last year, according to its projections. Popular shoes include UGG Sparkles and “Sperry Topsiders are just booming,” Good said.
Local team sports apparel is also fashionable, Peterson said. Trends for the younger siblings of teens include items featuring superheroes like Green Lantern or Captain America. Shirts with “Angry Birds,” the popular game for iPhones, are also very popular among boys, Peterson said.
Another character, “Hello Kitty,” is in style this season. Target has a large selection of items such as lunchboxes, purses and pencils with the Japanese cat on them this year, Classic said.
“It’s very exciting to our clientele,” she added.
“Hello Kitty” also makes appearances on graphic tees and notebooks at Walmart, according to a July 19 press release.
In addition, Walmart stocks “Super Mario Brothers” notebooks and folders, along with items featuring characters from the Nickelodeon show, “Victorious.”
Snacks for lunch and after school also line the shelves of local stores. Stores like Meijer offer programs such as NuVal, a nutritional scoring system on food items, to make buying healthy foods easier, Peterson said.
“We look at ourselves [as parents] and say, ‘What would help us?’” he said. “We’re really pushing easy meals for healthy kids.”
This includes handing out recipe cards at stores and demonstrating recipes for snacks like vanilla-berry smoothies.
Meijer will also have a “healthy living adviser” on its Facebook page every Thursday from 10-11 a.m. in August and September.
“I don’t see how it (healthy snacking) can’t be a trend,” said Elizabeth M. Ward, author and nutrition consultant for Sargento. “We need to teach them (children) that snacking is healthy,” she said.
One of Sargento’s newer products is the Fridge Pack, a cheese snack designed to stand up in the refrigerator because kids are more inclined to eat better “if something healthy is visible,” Ward said.
Snacks with protein like the Fridge Pack, which comes in light string cheese, mild cheddar and Colby jack, keep children fuller longer, Ward said, adding, “My kids really like them for that.”