08/09/2010 11:09 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The back-to-school rush

Summer is coming to an end, and we're already talking about shopping for the new school year at my house. When you have three kids, it seems like they're always growing out of their clothes and shoes, and last year's backpack was just "so last year." As families like ours begin preparing for the new school year, I wonder what implications the back-to-school rush will have on Goodwill stores.

With the economy barely in recovery, families are still very sensitive to product prices and are careful about where they will be spending their money. According to a survey of consumer actions by the National Retail Federation, 71.2 percent of families will shop at a discount store. Of the survey respondents, 17 percent said they will also shop at a thrift store. More parents -- 44 percent compared to last year's 41 percent -- will also focus on buying private label or store brands rather than name brands.

It is not surprising to learn that most folks are planning to shop only sales and use coupons when they can. The National Retail Federation also found that fathers spend more money than mothers when shopping for their children. I'll be sure not to tell my wife this little piece of information.

There are nearly 2,400 Goodwill stores across the country, many of which have the affordable clothing and supplies that kids need, so it is great to hear that some folks are planning on shopping at their local thrift stores for their back-to-school needs. I hope that parents will consider shopping at their local Goodwill for back-to-school.

In total, 83 percent of Goodwill's retail revenue goes toward job training programs and career services for people with disabilities, those who lack education or job experience, and others facing challenges to finding employment. Shopping at Goodwill helps people who need it the most in local communities. Even though the National Retail Federation projects consumer spending to be 10 percent higher this year than it was last year, it doesn't hurt to stretch out your dollar by not only spending it wisely, but also making sure it go towards a good cause. I know my family will.