Back-to-school shopping is making a comeback

School resumes for the fall, as do the back-to-school races. Mastercard estimates that overall retail sales from July through mid-September will increase by more than 5% from the same period last year and by almost 7% from 2019. Most of this spending growth can be attributed to equipping these other growing things: children.

Back-to-school windows return to Grasshopper, a children’s store in Portland, Oregon.

“Pretty school bus things, lots of colorful school supplies, notebooks, things like that,” principal Meagan Ruyle said. Notice she didn’t mention the backpacks.

“We should have ordered backpacks for fall like December or January, and we didn’t know at the time what back to school would look like,” she said.

There may be more money than usual to chase after these backpacks, thanks to the federal government. The newly expanded child tax credit will inject hundreds of dollars into family bank accounts starting July 15, through the end of the year.

“The majority of Americans don’t really expect this, so it should be a pleasant surprise. It’s kind of fueling back-to-school income, ”said Jen Redding, analyst at Wedbush Securities.

The real stimulus, however, will not come from the federal government. It will come from parents dreaming of Zoom reunions uninterrupted by math lessons.

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