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On Parenting
Posted at 12:33 PM ET, 08/01/2012

The back-to-school shopping assault

And you thought you still had a month left of summer?

Ha ha. So naive.

That’s like thinking you don’t have to worry about Christmas until mid-December.

“August means one thing and one thing only: back-to-school shopping!” declares Teen Vogue, the advertising heavy magazine that is leading a new charge to get parents to part ways with their cash.


(Spencer Platt - Getty Images)
Using lessons learned from the massive haul-ins from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Teen Vogue has worked with retailers to create a shopping “event” for back-to-school on Aug. 11.

The arbitrary day has now been anointed “Back-To-School Saturday.”

Posters have been created with the tagline: “Get ready, get set, get shopping!” A twitter hashtag is ready to go too, #BTSS.

“We’re trying to create a moment of imagination and motivation,” Jason Wagenheim, vice president and publisher of Teen Vogue told The New York Times.

Marketers know that the back-to-school season is an opportunity on par with the holidays. The National Retail Federation expects about $83 billion will be spent on back-to-school purchases, with the average parent of a schoolchild spending close to $700 each.

Those shopping online are expected to spend even more, closer to $900.

Those are good-looking numbers to an industry that’s been struggling. Retailers are racing each other to capture these dollars, offering more promotions and expanding the parameters of the “season.”

Another survey by Capital One found that 70 percent of parents are shopping for back-to-school items all summer.

Long gone are the days when my mom and I dashed to Sears the weekend before school to choose a “first day” ensemble.

Financial experts warn that the best strategy to head off such manipulations is to create a cool-headed list with a child or teen before heading out to the store. But that can be easier said then done. The forces of retail are strong at this time of year.

Kids, specially teens, can be vulnerable to the marketing-created strategy that tells them: You will be more popular if you go back to school looking right.

Their messages of “Run, don’t walk to the mall!” (an actual Teen Vogue headline) are intended to vanquish that parental cry of “this still fits!”

What’s your strategy? Do you plan to spend more or less this year?

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By  |  12:33 PM ET, 08/01/2012

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