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ECONOMICS REPORT - Back-to-School Time Spells S-h-o-p-p-i-n-g - 2004-09-03

Broadcast: September 3, 2004

This is Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Most children in the United States are returning to school after the summer holiday. Public education for children in the United States is free. But parents still have to buy equipment, new clothes and other supplies for their children before every new school year.

The National Retail Federation studies such sales each year. It is an organization of many kinds of stores, as well as companies that sell goods by mail order and the Internet. The group recently released a report on back-to-school sales this year. The report says American parents will spend almost fifteen thousand million dollars this year to prepare their children for school.

A research business carried out the study for the National Retail Federation. It asked more than eight thousand Americans about their back-to-school needs and shopping and spending plans.

The study found that ninety-three percent of families with school-age children plan to purchase clothes, shoes and school supplies.

Families will spend an average of almost five-hundred dollars on those things. This is an increase of more than seven percent from last year. Almost half of those questioned also said they planned to spend about one hundred dollars on electronics and computer-related products. The National Retail Federation says that would be a fifteen percent increase from last year. The group says most families have enough money to buy electronic and computer equipment for their children. It says this helps parents continue their children’s education at home.

Half of the parents in the study said their children would be using their own money to buy some things for school. Teenaged children are expected to spend about eighty five dollars each for supplies. And, twenty-three percent of parents said even their younger children will buy some things for themselves.

To help shoppers save money, several cities permit people to buy some goods without paying sales tax. Washington, D.C., is one such city. It observed a ten-day sales tax holiday in August. During this period, people could buy clothing, shoes or school supplies that cost less than one-hundred dollars without having to pay sales tax.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Caty Weaver. This is Gwen Outen.