GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Students throughout West Michigan are about to go back to school and that means many parents are hitting the stores to buy much needed school supplies.
But, will the state of the struggling economy make it a tough year for families to go school shopping? 24 Hour News 8 caught up with local shoppers Friday to see how they are coping with the bill.
The National Retail Federation expects the average family to spend a little over $600 on back to school items including clothing, supplies and electronics.
It seems that this year, consumers are being a little more careful then they have been in the past.
"I think that as a parent you do have choices," explained Claudia Wrogg. "You can buy cheap pencils or the more expensive ones, so I do think you have a choice there."
Many parents follow a list when they're out buying school supplies.
"I went through my list," said Wrogg. "I checked it all off."
However, back to school shopping can be a chore for many parents and an expensive one if you are not keeping track of your purchases.
24 Hour News 8 asked Claudia Wrogg how much money she has already spent on school supplies for her children, "um, boy, that's a hard question," she said. "Because we did it in several trips, so it's hard to add it all up."
Some consumer experts suggest much of the expense of school shopping is self imposed -- meaning your child may not need everything on the list provided by stores and schools.
One tip to help you save money at the store is to leave your children at home. This will allow a consumer to focus on the price as well as the product. One study found that you can save as much as 30% on your bill if you shop for school supplies without your children.
It is also important to pay attention to quality when you are purchasing supplies. A cheap binder may not be worth it if it falls apart every few months and you need to purchase another. A wider range of quality products can be found at office supply stores but the prices for those items are generally higher.
Another sore spot for parents is the price of printer ink. Some families can spend as much as $200 a year on ink alone.
24 Hour News 8 found that Target had the lowest price on an Epson ink cartridge. However, Meijer is the only store that sells off brand ink, which can be half the price of the regular brand.
On the other hand, Staples stores will price match items if competitors have the same item in stock for a different price. The store will also give you a $3 coupon if you return your used ink cartridges.
Another way to save money on the cost of ink is to have your child ask their teachers if work can be accepted by email, CD or flash drive.
The Norton Shores Police Department is reporting three reports of stolen snowblowers this week.
About a dozen people were displaced.
One person was arrested after a threatening comment resulted in a school district briefly locking down its schools Friday morning.