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Parents may assume that their kids want new clothes to kick off the school year, but according to a Harris Interactive survey conducted for Ebates.com in June, most kids — 42 percent — said what they really wanted was a tablet computer or a new smartphone. Preteens are most likely to want some sort of high-tech gadget, even though their age group is less likely to be allowed to bring smartphones to school.
Out of the 2,208 parents surveyed by Ebates, 43 percent said that they planned to do their back-to-school shopping in August, five percent said that they wait until September to stock up, and just 30 percent have started scoping out the back-to-school sales already. More parents than ever before plan to shop online, paying special attention to free-shipping deals, the National Retailers Federation says.
"The budget-conscious consumer has not forgotten about price, quality, or value, we're merely seeing a more savvy shopper," BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow said in a statement. "There's no question consumers have become more practical in their shopping, and with school purchases oftentimes considered a necessity, parents have likely been saving and scrimping to be able to fully afford all of their children's needs for the upcoming school year."
Retailers are already placing bets on what kids will want their parents to buy, stocking the shelves with things that they hope will be the hot items for back-to-school this year. Here's a look at the emerging trends:
For the lunchbox:
Stainless steel is in — not for the lunchbox itself, though, just for the stuff you pack it. With the government's new ban on BPAs in baby bottles, manufacturers are taking things a step further and making thermal containers and water bottles out of sleek stainless steel. They're pricier than plastic, but they last longer, don't hold on to odors, are reusable, and won't leak toxins into a kid's lunch.
For school supplies:
Superheroes are always big among the elementary school set, but this year, they're even bigger, thanks to blockbuster movies like The Avengers aimed at adults and older teens. Another must have for younger kids: anything Angry Birds, from backpacks to notebooks to lunch boxes. For older kids, notebooks and other school supplies will be governed with glitz and glitter or animal prints in colors not normally found in nature.
For the tech-savvy:
According to data from Ebates.com, kids of all ages are clamoring for high-tech gadgets like tablet computers and smartphones, but the people who can benefit most from those devices are the college-bound. If you're heading to the dorms, a tablet computer (like an iPad) can serve as your entertainment system (streaming movies and TV shows, playing music and games, reading books via Kindle, iBooks, or Nook apps) and as an in-class learning aid (for tapping out notes or recording lectures or even for toting around PDFs) and can even be used for carrying around all those English lit books they'll have to read (thank you, ereaders!). Students will still need a computer for writing papers and doing research, both of which are more difficult to do on a tablet.
For girls, skinny jeans and ballerina flats are popular, and for students who have to wear school uniforms, flowered headbands are a hit, thanks to shows like Gossip Girl. Floral prints and tribal themes are also rumored to be hot this season. For guys, retailers are counting on bright colors and classic prints — think wide horizontal stripes and argyle patterns.
— Lylah M. Alphonse
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