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NEW YORK CITY-Consumers will spend more this year than last year on back to school items, according to Port Washington, NY-based research firm NPD Group. Shoppers plan to spend an average of $372 per child, up from $367, according to a poll of about 35,000 people NPD took this summer.

Target, Wal-Mart and other mass-merchandise retailers are the first choices for shoppers, followed by specialty retailers that target teens. The best-selling items will be school supplies, apparel, apparel accessories and footwear, the report says.

Shoppers will most seriously consider an item’s value before making a purchase. “The quest for ‘value’ remains very high on the reason-to-purchase list, due to the increase in fuel prices and the impact it has on the mid- to lower-income brackets,” says Marshall Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst, in a statement.

A different survey, done by the Santa Monica, CA-based mall owner Macerich Co., finds that most students will seek “retro-inspired” fashions, followed by a “bohemian,” or “hippie” look.

Macerich’s survey, which tallied 4,200 shoppers, found that the average consumer will spend $769, up 25% from last year’s figure. About $421 of the total will go toward clothing and accessories, while the remainder of the budget is marked for school supplies, electronic and other items.

“Crafty and embroidered” jeans and jackets were the most popular apparel item, the survey reports. Those were followed by cropped pants.

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