TLP: Off to School With a Real-World Head Start on Economics Lessons
We've already seen what kinds of things are on the school supply lists this fall and good luck with that. Now it looks like the kids are making do with whatever they still fit into for back-to-school wear.
In an ominous sign for the holiday shopping season, American consumers behaved like skinflints in August, focusing on bare necessities and budget-priced deals as they made back-to-school purchases.Something tells me that last year's book bags will do just fine this fall and the gym shoes will be fitting a little tighter a little longer.
Shoppers spent slightly more last month than they had the year before, according to MasterCard Advisors, which crunches data from credit cards, checks and cash payments to form sales estimates. But in nearly every category, the sales numbers were far short of 2008 levels, indicating the economic recovery remains sluggish.
Indeed, an index of consumer confidence released Tuesday by the Conference Board, a private research group, rose just 2.5 points in August, to 53.5.
"Expectations about future business and labor-market conditions have brightened somewhat, but overall, consumers remain apprehensive about the future," said Lynn Franco, director of the group's Consumer Research Center. "All in all, consumers are about as confident today as they were a year ago."
And a Gallup Poll of consumers' self-reported spending in August showed that consumers estimated they spent $65 a day, less than in June and July and roughly the same as in August 2009. The estimates, released Tuesday, included restaurant and gasoline purchases as well as items like clothing.
Total clothing sales rose 2.6% in August from a year earlier, MasterCard said, but they were buoyed by an 8.4% jump in children's wear. Sales of men's clothing fell 1.9% and women's clothing fell 2.7%, suggesting that parents were forgoing purchases for themselves. Clothes sales were still off 2.3% compared with two years ago.