Kerry Fitzpatrick is pushing a shopping cart through the aisles of Sacramento thrift store Deseret Industries. Her two red-headed little girls are by her side. Fitzpatrick is looking for back-to-school clothes.
“Some skirts. Becky, she only wears skirts and dresses.”
The second-hand dresses in Fitzpatrick’s cart are close to 20-years-old. Her daughters may not think they’re too chic…but they look good to mom.
“I like the styles more – they’re from the ‘80s and ‘90s (laughs).”
Fitzpatrick says times are tough for her family. She’s doing less shopping at the big chain stores.
“A lot more thrift store lately because my husband’s a state worker and he’s furloughed now for three days of the month and that’s why you see a lot of people on Fridays come into thrift stores.”
…more shoppers make it tougher, Fitzpatrick says, to find newer skirts and dresses.
“I used to see a lot more nicer clothes. I look for Old Navy and Gap and I’m not seeing that as much because of course there’s more competition now in shopping.”
Jack McKinney is the manager at this thrift store. He says business is brisk.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of customers that are coming through. Everyone’s trying to stretch their dollar, trying to get by.”
And that’s the trend nationwide. Ellen Davis is with the National Retail Federation. Their annual Back to School Consumer Intentions and Actions survey found that 20% of the parents polled plan to shop at thrift stores.
“I definitely think that one in five families shopping at a second-hand store or a thrift store for back to school is an indication that people are paying very close attention to how much money they spend and trying not to over-extend themselves.”
In fact, Davis says the average family won’t be shelling out as much cash during this shopping season.
“Last year families spent about $600 getting kids ready for school and this year that number will drop to about $550.”
Many parents surveyed said their kids will be wearing the same thing on the first day of school that they were wearing on the last.