The National Retail Federation expects spending to increase this year. According to the NRF survey, the average family with kids in K-12 will spend nearly $670 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics.
That's up 5 percent over last year, but total spending is expected to drop because there are fewer students in households this summer.
Ginny Luther says hitting the store ahead of time offers a better selection, and she went to Target Friday with her two children.
"Things get picked over, so we're trying to find a great backpack and lunchbox," she says. "It's always sad to say goodbye to Summer, but it's always fun to look forward to starting school with some new supplies."
Although the NRF expects more spending, Luther is only buying the necessities.
"We have decided to reuse my son's backpack from last year," she says. "It was in good shape and it was a good size for him."
Gentry teacher Heather Fox says after eleven years, she has the essentials.
"I'm here shopping for my classroom," she says. "Now I get to kinda buy the fun stuff to go in the room and decorate it more and make it kind of feel like home for the kids."
She's making this year's shopping easier on students too.
"As a third grade teaching team, we've actually tried to drop our school list down so parents don't have to buy as much," she says.
Johnson says it's too early to tell if spending is up.
"We won't know for another 2 or 3 weeks, especially, you know, move-in week and tax-free weekend, will be a tell tale sign," he says. "We'll have 70 percent of the people that are in the store in this 8 block area."
The NRF survey also asks school shoppers how the economy is impacting spending plans, and says the impact is down from 2009, but 8 out of 10 respondents say they're still affected. More than one third of families plan to by store brand items to save cash, while one fourth say they will make do with supplies from last year.