4 Back-to-School Items Every Kid Still Needs

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Have your bought your child a backpack with pop sensations One Direction on it, or a spiral notebook plastered with the family on A&E's reality television series "Duck Dynasty?" Apparently these are two of the season's hottest trends in school supplies.

Less than a month from now, most schools and colleges around the country will be back in session, with students sporting the latest fall clothing trends, hot electronics, gizmos and gadgets, all to kick off a fresh season of learning.

For retailers, "back-to-school" is one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year, second to the Christmas holiday season. Of course the most popular categories to shop for are apparel and electronics, but plenty more retailers will see a lift from school supplies and sports gear to dormitory furnishings for older students.

Besides One Direction and Duck Dynasty, this year kids will be sporting apparel and supplies doused in neon, licensed NCAA decor and animated character favorites from movies like Monsters University, according to a Wal-Mart survey.

Consumers are in full shopping mode right now for their school gear, even though early reports say that, sales are slower than usual. Total back-to-school and back-to-college spending combined will reach $72.5 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates. Families with school-age children are expected to spend an average of $634.78 to prepare for school, 8% less than they spent in 2012. Those with college-age students will spend approximately $836.83 on gear, also 8% less than last year, NRF says.

Also see: Retailers Brace for Lower Back-to-School Sales

Also see: Top 10 Back-to-School Tablets

No matter how fashion-forward the items get, some back-to-school items never get old, but retailers are putting fresh spins on some classic items. Here are four that got TheStreet.com's attention.

1. School Supplies

Students still need items like staplers, rulers and scissors. But gone are the days of boring metal-colored supplies (and those ugly rubber green handles, designating 'Lefty' scissors).

Staples ( SPLS) is promoting some cool fiber-optic supplies that are sure to get your kid excited to do his or her schoolwork.

The Glo-Lite collection, which includes staplers, rulers, scissors and dry-erase boards, are mostly priced from $6 to $8.99. Fiber Optic Pencil Pouches also twinkle in cool designs including shoe, piano and paisley and sell for $6.99. Kids can also carry their lunch in style with an assortment of light up lunch bags that sell for $12.99.

But don't try and buy these online. You will have to make the trip to a local Staples store because the Glo Lite collection is available in stores only, the company says.

2. Backpacks

Even with the increasing use of digital formats by educators, students love to show individualism through the choice of their backpacks.

For elementary-age children, a hot trend this year is combining backpacks with matching accessories, such as attached headphones or lunch totes, in patterns from brightly colored camouflage to TV celebrity personalities and characters. Target's ( TGT) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sells for $39.99. Backpacks with popular music bands, such as One Direction, are selling for $15.99, according to Target.com.

For older students, backpacks that come in this year's trendiest home furnishing and accessories patterns like chevron, plaid, tie die and ombre are also popular, Target says.

Check with your local store for Target's available selection. Some items are sold online only, while others are sold both in store and online.

2. Comforters

Similar to the backpack, college students use dorm décor to express their individuality.

While the National Retail Federation forecasts college spending to fall, one category that is expected to rise is dorm and apartment furnishings. Families are expected to spend on average $100.27 for new bedding, small refrigerators and microwaves, among other things, up 4.5% from 2012.

This year, Kohl's ( KSS) is focusing on four dorm décor trends -- color, utility, humor, bold prints and geometric patterns.

As part of the Kohl's Student Lounge line, comforters such as the Student Lounge Geo Pop 3-piece Reversible Comforter, originally selling for $79.99 for a full/queen size, are now on sale for $39.99, according to Kohls.com.

"Create a global-chic atmosphere by accessorizing a dorm room or first apartment with the season's top prints and patterns. Fun florals, geometric designs and tribal prints are a few patterns that can be found at Kohl's this season. Mix and match these prints by adding a chevron-printed pouf, geometric printed bedding and floral decorative pillows," Ralph Snyder, Kohl's home design director, said in a statement.

4. Crayons

It sounds so simple, but a timeless favorite each school season is crayons.

As part of its back-to-school lineup of more than 250 popular school supplies that are on sale for less than $1, Wal-Mart ( WMT) has Crayola 24-count pack of crayons available 50 cents all back-to-school season long.

Wal-Mart is expecting to sell 42 million boxes of crayons -- enough to wrap around the globe more than 1.6 times, the company says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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