Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Joe High School may have reason to envy younger siblings


student1Check out back-to-school spending trends.
Joe High School may have every right to be jealous of his younger siblings during this back-to-school shopping season, according to a survey conducted by, a part of Experian
Consumers plan to buy more gadgets — laptop computers, cell phones and other accessories — for elementary school students, almost doubling spending in some cases, while the rate of growth is expected to be lower if not negative for many high schoolers, according to the “Back-to-School Shopping Consumer Behavior Report.”
“Laptops and other electronics are the most expensive items on most back-to-school shopping lists. The increase in gadgets purchased for elementary school students has forced parents to increase the overall budget at an earlier age,” Barbary Brunner, chief marketing officer at PriceGrabber said in a statement. 
“However, the survey data implies that while some parents are purchasing laptops and electronics for high school students, other parents are forgoing the purchase of the latest and greatest new technology for high schoolers who already have late-model devices,” she added.

Meanwhile, 45 percent of those surveyed will spend the same amount as last year on back-to-school shopping and 14 percent will spend more, according to PriceGrabber.

Two leading U.S. retail industry groups previously said parents and students will be spending more this year on back-to-school items.
The number of consumers buying their wide-eyed elementary-aged child a laptop is 15 percent, up from 7 percent last year, while plans to purchase a cell phone hit 10 percent from 6 percent last year, according to the PriceGrabber study.
The laptop purchase rate for high schoolers rose, but to a lesser degree, going up to 25 percent from 22 percent last year, according to the study. And forget cell phones as that rate fell to 12 percent from 15 percent last year.
High schoolers (9th through 12th grades) also come up short in the budget planning as only 50 percent of consumers surveyed plan to spend more than $250 on that group, compared with 52 percent for elementary kids (kindergarten through 5th grades), 62 percent for middle schoolers (6th through 8th grades) and 67 percent for college and junior college students, according to the study.
The survey was conducted online from May 12 to June 1 with 1,718 consumers. 

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(Reuters photo)

New options for extended warranties


If you’re tired of pushy salespeople who try to convince you to spend hundreds of extra dollars on an extended warranty when you buy a new appliance or computer, alternatives are emerging.

fridge.jpgMany consumer advocates have urged against buying warranties, citing concerns about costs and difficulty in making claims. But now, companies such as SquareTrade and are hoping to profit by selling extended service plans for appliances and electronics online at lower prices.