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Uptick in Clothing Prices Sends Parents to Saving Strategies

Thanks to steadily increasing cotton and labor costs, fashion manufacturers are cutting back on both quality and extras. Instead, they’re using inexpensive tweaks to con shoppers into believing they’re actually getting more for their money — thus the new slang term “con-flation.”

It looks like parents aren’t buying it, however. The National Retail Foundation released a study in late July indicating back-to-school shoppers plan to spend less this year across the board.

According to the study, “Parents are actually taking inventory of last year’s items, asking kids to…try on those ‘old’ jeans, and check if the tennis shoes still fit.”

The Labor Department reported clothing prices rose 1.2 percent in July, the third straight increase in the last year. In 12 months, clothing costs rose 3.1 percent, the biggest yearly increase since July 1992.

Shopper pragmatism is one way to beat the system; another is to use cost-saving methods to reduce back-to-school budgets. Here are six recommendations.

1. Examine the Extras

Thinner jeans and cap sleeves became standard for manufacturers looking to reduce their production costs. Watch for other cost-cutting tweaks, like fake pockets and buttonholes. Stores can charge shoppers up to $10 more for an embellishment that costs them pennies to produce.

2. Don’t Give Into the Tweet

Creative social marketing techniques reach younger audiences in a forceful way. Facebook-based coupons, sale announcements, and aggressive Tweeting make it look like kids will get a good buy when they’re actually being manipulated into patronizing higher-end merchants.

3. Shop Online

Surfing for school clothes is easier than comparison shopping between brick-and-mortar outlets. The wise shopper knows, however, they can reduce their costs further at places like JCPenney by using free shipping codes, or by joining free shipping clubs.

4. Consign and Buy

Kids grow out of clothes so quickly there’s often still lots of wear left in them. Consignment stores turn old clothes into cash while offering potential purchases for new items. Most shops make you wait for payment until clothing is sold, but the female-clothing chain Plato’s Closet pays at drop-off.

5. Swap Clothing

Many swap websites allow parents to trade old for new without the long wait of consignment stores. Members can make trades either locally or across the country, but long-distance swaps require both parties pay for shipping.

6. Hold Out for the Holidays

Sales start after back-to-school shopping is usually completed. Shoppers who hold off until later in the fall — or even for holiday sales like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Free Shipping Day — can save on fall fashions.


Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.

About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
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