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Back-to-school shopping trends change due to COVID-19

Posted at 9:23 PM, Aug 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-08 23:33:19-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Goodwill Princess Anne Retail Store in Virginia Beach was busy with shoppers Saturday. Many people took advantage of the tax-free weekend for their back-to-school-supplies, but their school supply list may look a little different this year.

James Winslow of Chesapeake found a deal on two chairs for his kids, who like many other students will be starting the school year remotely.

“They can sit around and watch TV and hold their laptop and do their work and feel comfortable,” Winslow said.

With the risk of contracting COVID-19 still a threat, the usual school shopping trend has changed.

Paul Ewell is the Dean of Global Campus at Virginia Wesleyan University. Students will we returning to their college classrooms late this month.

“Probably this year, care packages might not include cupcakes, but might include sanitize, wipes and things of that nature,” Ewell said.

As most schools decide to go virtual this fall, spending is expected to be a record high as parents stock up on expensive technology such as laptops, tablets and headphones.

“Although a lot of laptops have webcams and microphones built in, there are still some that don’t, so webcams, some microphones,” said Ewell.

Ewell said VWU has spent a lot of money making sure the classrooms are equipped with cameras and zoom accounts for students who are unable to attend class in person.

The National Retail Federation predicts electronic spending to grow nearly 30 percent for K-12 students.

Total spending for back to school is expected to reach a record-breaking $101.6 billion.

High school teacher Susie Davis said she and her three teenage kids are ready for virtual learning at Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

“We’re sort of going into this virtually prepared,” she said. “Everybody has a Chromebook; everybody has an Internet connection. We’re just going to make the best of it.”

Meanwhile, Winslow said he was able to save money by not having to buy school uniforms and using laptops that were donated by his family members.

However, with his four kids all learning from home, and ranging in grades K-12, he said his costs will pretty much even out.

“The expense is still basically the same, because you have to buy food,” Winslow laughed. “Food is expensive, so I thank God for this place.”