Back-to-school shopping now has a second wave

"There seem to be a lot of kids who are waiting to shop, to make sure they're on-trend," he says.

Other drivers of September and October back-to-school shopping:

•It saves money. Cindy Swainbank got fed up with doing her son's back-to-school shopping in the summer and missing sales in September and October. "It was frustrating to find the same things on sale six weeks after I bought them," says the computer systems engineer from Scranton, Pa.

This year, she and son David, 16, will hold off on his back-to-school clothes shopping until October.

Lorrie Ortega plans to hold off on 75% of her back-to-school shopping until November The San Antonio resident has two sons, 15 and 7.

"When they start bringing out the spring line," Ortega says, "I start buying winter school clothes really cheap."

•It's too hot in August. Kathy Bergholz, Lindsey's mother, says it's too hard to think about back-to-school clothing in the heat of summer. "Back-to-school shopping in July is a real turn-off. It's too hard to buy new school shoes when you're in flip-flops."

•Some big states are opening schools later. With Texas and Florida both starting school two weeks later this year — and delaying back-to-school "sales tax holidays" by two weeks — some stores saw sales dip in July and jump in August.

"It made a huge difference in sales at our stores," says Jim McGinty, chief financial officer at teen retailer Hot Topic hott.

•Gift cards are becoming shopping allowances. A growing number of parents, eager to teach their kids how to budget for expenses, are handing them their back-to-school shopping allowances via gift cards.

Once the card is spent, that's it, says Ken Nisch, retail consultant at JGA. With the gift card, he says, "Kids no longer have to do all their back-to-school shopping in one day while Mom is standing there with her credit card."

It's not over until …

There were no gift card limits for Lindsey Bergholz.

After waiting nearly three weeks past the start of the school year, she finally hit the mall on Sept. 9 with her mom. They spent roughly $500 on a trip to the Oak Brook Center Mall in Oak Brook, Ill.

Later, Lindsey went online and did more damage.

Even so, there's more to go.

Kathy Bergholz, Lindsey's credit card-carrying mom, says, "I don't think that we're ever quite done with back-to-school shopping."

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