Economy

California's back-to-school shoppers hunt for bargains

Heading back to school this year means new backpacks, shoes and tighter budgets for many Northern San Joaquin Valley shoppers.

Waterford resident Adriana Vega headed into T.J. Maxx with deals on her mind. Vega said she probably will spend half as much as she did last year on school clothes for her son, 12-year-old Jesus. She also has shopped around more, hitting such stores as Target, Kohl's and Ross.

"We're doing bargain shopping," she said. "It's harder on a budget, so we're looking at every available option and all the advertisements."

Back-to-school shopping has been slower this year because of the still-stalled economy. The International Council of Shopping Centers, an industry trade group, found that same-store sales at more than 30 of the top national retailers fell 5 percent in July compared with July of last year.

August is the month when many students head back into the classroom, and the group predicts a 4 percent drop for this month from August 2008. Th

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