The Plain Dealer
July 7th, 2011
Retailers already gearing up for back-to-school shoppers: Just because retailers are feeling more optimistic doesn’t mean that consumers are, said Sherry Jarrell, finance and economics professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. “Home values, an important factor in how a family perceives their personal wealth, are at historic lows. The average U.S. family just doesn’t feel as wealthy as it once did,” she said. “There still is this spector of ‘I may become unemployed,’ or ‘There may be another recession,’ or ‘I don’t have the buying power that I used to.’ I don’t remember my neighbors being quite so pessimistic and so risk-averse as I’ve seen them over the last several months. . . Add to this persistent high levels of unemployment and fears of unemployment, and it’s unlikely parents will loosen their belts for extra items or expensive brands. The old back-to-school buying barometer is less predictable than ever,” she said.