Victoria Keith, a budget-minded mom in Brantford, has already dropped more than $200 on back-to-school shopping — and that’s only for one of her two school-aged children.

And while her kids would love to show off an entirely new back-to-school wardrobe, Keith feels the current economic uncertainty means it is no time to splurge.

Back-to-school shopping comes this year just as signs point to a slowing economy and reduced consumer spending.

Retailers have slashed prices on everything from lined paper and markers for elementary students to small appliances for university dorm rooms as they try to lure consumers into their shops.


But many Canadians are delaying their back-to-school purchases in hopes that stores will slash prices further, said Daniel Baer, a retail and wholesale industry expert at Ernst and Young. He estimates back-to-school sales this year will increase four or five per cent from last year, but points out 2009 sales were weak compared with prior years.

Consumer sentiment has turned negative in recent months amidst a spate of dismal economic news, including headlines pondering whether the economy is headed for a double dip recession and still high unemployment rates, both of which have sharpened consumer resistance to spend, he said.