Perhaps summarising best how so many of the back-to-school shoppers feel, Reuters cites this insightful 18-year-old thus: "I feel like the economy is messed up [and it] feels like we are still in recession." The equity market's response, of course, is "whatev'" and while it has been three years since the 'official' end of the recession, unemployment among teenagers is the highest since 1964! The anecdotal evidence is starting to pile up as we see retailer after retailer cut outlooks - which is especially concerning since the back-to-school period is the second-biggest selling season after the winter holiday season and as the head of BizDev from Mall of America notes: "We used to see people starting [back-to-school shopping] in late July but I don't see that anymore" as "consumers have shown tentativeness in their spending habits" and are likely to push off the spend until September, and "just shopping when there is a good sale."
Once again, consumers have become conditioned to wait for discounts - and sure enough 20%-plus price reductions and more aggressive promotions are planned according to Accenture's retail practice.
However, one quote on 'thriftiness' struck a chord: "We are borrowing this year to fund a lot of things that we normally would not have borrowed to do. It makes me nervous, we are selling our second home to help pay for things" - oh, no - not your second home!