Every year at Back to School time, parents head out in droves with armfuls of children attached to themselves in search of the latest and greatest fashion and gadgets. Some spend a lot and some spend a little, but in 2011 parents said they spent about $606, down from $612 in 2010. So, what does that mean? It means Mrs. Smith bought one less three-ring binder than she did the year before. It's a change that researchers and retailers are extremely mindful of because when you think about all those un-bought binders, you realize just how much they can add up to. But it's not just important to think about how much money parents spend during this time, it is also important to think about why they spend it. Back to School time brings about change. Change in the leaves, change in the temperature. Kids grow older, taller, chubbier, and more or less popular. They look to form new ideas and new identities. While this change may be exciting for parents (or depressing!), it is something they have no control over. One thing parents do have control over, however, is what they buy for their kids. The desire for control urges them to buy, but also means they are part of their kid's experience. Because as it turns out, going to class with them isn't going to happen. Bottom line? Allowing parents to be a key part of the Back to School process is even more important. This means retailers should implement a variety of tactics including sales and promotions making shopping easier by calling out the products kids need and merchandising them in a way parents and kids can navigate. Parents want to be part of the story and have a little control over it. Give them at least that!