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Scrambling For School Supplies

Parents look to the first bell

as they snap up last items

Another batch of Plainview youngsters is heading back to school this week -- and they all want the newest, coolest gadgets stuffed in their brand-new backpacks.

Moms and dads were back-to-school shopping in earnest at two Plainview-area CVS stores, as kids readied to return to Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, Howard B. Mattlin Middle School, Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School and many of the town’s elementary schools.

“They want whatever is the latest thing so they can look cool,” Micah S., whose son Ravi begins his high school career at POB-JFK this year, said from the CVS in Morton Village Plaza on Old Country Road. “And I understand. I was the same way in school. Nobody wants to be left out.”

The hot items this year tend to be of the digital variety; one parent said most of her back-to-school shopping took place at electronic stores browsing the tablets and laptops. But even as school supplies trend away from traditional notebooks, the old standbys are still included on shopping lists.

“You can’t go wrong with a handful of pens, pencils, index cards and all this other stuff,” said Lizzy Chapman, who now shops for her grandkids as her own children have long since graduated into adult life. “My kids absolutely had to have those Trapper-Keeper things. Now I’m sure parents have more expensive shopping trips.”

While the demand for expensive supplies is high, most families with school-age children are spending less than they did last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The federation said families with children in Kindergarten through 12th grade will spend an average $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down from $688.62 last year.

“Consumers are spending, but they are doing so with cost and practicality in mind,” said National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Having splurged on their growing children’s needs last year, parents will ask their kids to reuse what they can for the upcoming school season.”

An employee at the CVS store in the Woodbury Plaza shopping center on South Oyster Bay Road said its biggest sellers this year are the ubiquitous backpack, but also less-traditional silicon book covers. Much like the ones used to protect cellphones and tablets, these book covers are a multi-colored, flashy item.

“It’s one of those weird things that kids have to have,” said the employee, busily stocking shelves.

But no matter what the current back-to-school fashion might be, Chapman said one September tradition always holds.

“I remember feeling so relieved when the kids went back to school,” she said. “It was a happy day. I love them, but summers can get really long.”