A survey done for the National Retail Federation finds more parents are holding off on expensive items for back-to-school shopping this year.

"They are shopping a lot earlier on what we call really 'non-high' or inexpensive items — notebooks and pens, maybe some accessories for the classroom experience for their kids' backpacks," federation spokeswoman Ana Serafin Smith said.

But the survey finds many parents who went through the great recession 10 years ago are a bit more penny-wise and waiting to get better deals on apparel and electronics, especially for kids going off to college.

"When it comes to apparel, and especially technology, especially laptops or even dorm decorations, like a fridge or a microwave, those things are taking a little bit longer to actually pick up and purchase. Main reason? They are pretty expensive," Smith said.

Forty-one percent said their decision about where to shop was influenced by coupons. But 33 percent said they would leverage in-store promotions, and 29 percent said they were influenced by newspaper ad inserts.

Smith said parents of younger kids do a lot of their back-to-school shopping at department stores and discount stores. But she said the parents of college children more frequently opted for online shopping. One big reason: ordered items, especially furniture and the like, can be delivered directly to campus dorms, instead of having to be lugged from home.

Overall, the survey finds back to school spending is up about 10 percent this year.

"This year, we are projecting $86.4 billion is going to be spent between back to school and college. Last year, we saw about $75.8 billion," Smith said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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