GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It's still the middle of summer vacation, but already many merchants are gearing up for what's expected to be a spike in back to school shopping.
According to the Rubicon Project Consumer Pulse survey, 56 percent of parents plan to spend more money this year getting their children what they need for class than they did last year. Some merchants said they'd rather have too much inventory than take a chance on not having enough of what families want.
Children's apparel store owner Kim Riley said it's important for her to plan ahead, so she started ordering merchandise six months ago.
"Our nap mats, book bags, backpacks. The lunch boxes," said Riley. "Everybody is starting to think especially the preschool moms, the kindergarten moms are getting excited and they're ready. We offer monogramming, which makes it more special."
At the Super Walmart in Gulfport, the number of parents coming in to buy by paper, pencils, and other supplies has been steady, but a huge influx is expected soon. Store managers said their goal is to make sure their stock can keep up with demand.
Manager Matthew Nagorka said, "Last year a lot of the schools changed last minute to clear and mesh backpacks. We weren't quite as prepared as we needed to be, but this year we've got the full assortment. We're ready to go."
A national survey said parents of K-12 students plan to spend on average $873 per child, while college parents plan to spend more than $1,100 per child. All that spending is good news for retailers.
"Back to school drives some major sales both in novelty items, as well as basics, so it's definitely got a pull," said Nagorka. "Any time the economy is in a situation that people are able to spend more money and feel confident, it's a plus both for us and our community."
"Back to school is always good," Riley said. "Over the years, we have seen the economy coming back, and it's starting to strengthen back again."
Merchants expect to see a huge boost in sales on some items like clothing and shoes at the end of the month during a sales tax holiday on Friday, July 31 and Saturday, August 1.