Back-to-school shopping in full swing

Aaron Murdock looks over the school list as his son, Jake, 9, gathers supplies for the upcoming school year. Aaron, Jake and Jake’s brother, Connor, 12, were at Target on Thursday in preparation for the start of school next week. Jake was OK with the shopping, but Connor wasn’t the least bit happy about it. Monte LaOrange /

It’s that time of year again. The back-to-school rush is in full swing, but 12-year-old Connor Murdock wasn’t too enthused.

“It’s just so boring,” said Connor, a seventh-grader at Eagle Rock Middle School. “I don’t like shopping. It’s just a waste of time.”

Connor, along with his 9-year-old brother, Jake, and father, Aaron, were among a steady stream of families at Target in Idaho Falls on Thursday. They were finishing up school supply shopping only days before the new academic year begins.

“They’re typical boys,” Aaron said. “I’m forcing them to come do it.”

Consumers are expected to spend an estimated $74.9 billion this year to send their children and college students back to school, according to projections from the National Retail Foundation. That’s up 12 percent from 2013.

Linda Martin, CEO of Grow Idaho Falls, said there’s an upward tick every year in gross retail sales during August and September that can be attributed to back-to-school shopping.

“This time of year provides a little bit of a bump … which is especially desirable as you start getting into the holidays,” she said. “People are in town and they have the opportunity to go and (shop locally) and I would say that’s a good thing.”

It can get expensive, Aaron said, but the Murdock family doesn’t waste much time comparison shopping or clipping coupons.

“I’m not a ‘saver-shopper,’” he said. “It’s more, ‘Hey we need it, school starts Tuesday, let’s get it done. We’ve procrastinated long enough.’ ”

But things start to add up quickly, especially when your student has, shall we say, expensive preferences. Seven-year-old Benson Fitch, a second-grader at Ethel Boyes Elementary School, prefers mechanical pencils to traditional wood, mom Kimberly Fitch said.

“He loves to draw and he just likes it to be sharp and pointy all the time,” she said.

Fitch said she spends about $50 for Benson’s general supplies each year. With a little shopping around, that number can drop, but sometimes it’s just not worth it, she said.

“It’s really just the crowds of people that make it hard,” she said. “But it’s fun to stock up on craft supplies and at least for us, it’s a fun time; it’s exciting. It can be stressful, but it’s fun.”

Melissa Campbell, who lives in Grant, was shopping Thursday with her three sons, Jaxon, 6, Linkon, 5, and Rigdon, 2.

“Now that I have two of them (in school) and there’s more supplies, it gets to be more expensive,” she said. “It gets to be a lot of money, just all the supplies they need. With two of them, it’s still exciting and fun, once we get a few more of them in there, it’ll be a little stressful.”

Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.

Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.