And just like that, summer gives way to fall, slipping off before we’ve had enough and leaving us wanting more. This is at least in part the fault of the back-to-school shopping season, which is always creeping up earlier, nudging us reluctantly toward September.

But that said, those in retail find this very good news, as B2S (the back-to-school retail acronym, for those in the know) is the second largest sales event annually.

Parents of middle schoolers will be interested — but probably not very surprised — to hear that there’s a downward shift in the age of new computer users. According to the National Retail Foundation, almost half of middle school parents surveyed said they planned to buy their middle school student a laptop this year. I hope my eighth grader doesn’t pick <this> week to start reading my articles; a laptop is not on his list.

While tech products are the big-ticket items, the majority of families will be shopping for the classic school gearbackpacks, apparel, footwear.

The major difference in back-to-school shopping behavior is a shift in who is making the decisions; we are relinquishing a lot of the decision-making to our children and allowing them more buying influence.

School backpacks have always been a way for kids to express their individuality, and right now, the prints, colors, and style options are eye-popping. More backpacks are made with thoughtfully-designed compartments and pockets made specifically to stash water bottles, laptops, phones, and, of course, a few books.

One of the most popular gadget accessories this season is the cell phone adhesive pocket that holds student IDs, thereby eliminating the need to carry anything beyond a phone. And the myriad of portable charger options out there mean parents should no longer hear “Sorry, my battery died.

— Annette McLoughlin

Note: All back to school articles are searchable under the "Back To School" tag.