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by Brett Rowland

Crystal Lake, IL – City officials want to lure back-to-school shoppers to Crystal Lake with a new incentive program.

The City Council approved the $50,000 shopping program earlier this month as part of a $600,000 stimulus package.

Shoppers who spend a combined total of $300 in the city between Aug. 1 and Aug. 8 will be eligible for a $30 gift certificate good at local stores. The program is modeled after the city’s successful I Shop Crystal Lake campaign launched during the 2008 holiday season.

“We’re trying to get the word out right now to shoppers and retailers,” Crystal Lake Planner Latika Bhide said. “We had a great response to the holiday incentive program, and we would expect a similar response to this.”

City staff met with local business owners Thursday morning to discuss the program and handed out applications, signs and posters promoting the event, Bhide said.

Predictions have consumers spending less this year. Nationally, the average family with students in kindergarten through 12th grade is expected to spend $548.72 on school merchandise, a National Retail Federation survey said.

That’s a 7.7 percent decline from $594.24 in 2008. Total spending is expected to reach $17.42 billion nationwide.

To participate, customers must spend at least $300 in Crystal Lake, fill out an application, and send copies of receipts to the program office at City Hall by Sept. 1.

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