Retailers set expectations low for back-to-school shopping

Parents may be just getting their kids into local summer camps, but retailers are already wondering what's on their minds for the coming school year.

While many Whatcom County students started summer vacation just a few weeks ago, the back-to-school shopping season has begun across the U.S. For retailers, it's an important time of year. It is generally considered the second biggest shopping season of the year (after Christmas), and typically sets the tone for the holiday shopping season.

With the national economy still sputtering, expectations for back-to-school shopping have been set relatively low. The National Retail Federation predicts consumers will spend $47.5 billion this season, down 7.5 percent compared to last year. The organization surveyed consumers and found 85 percent of Americans will make changes to spending this year, looking for more bargains and spending less.

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