It’s back-to-college season, which means retailers are battling to equip as many of America’s freshmen with laptops, futons and minifridges as they can. Amid the flood of deals and discounts, some have their eyes on a bigger prize: figuring out how a new generation of customers shops and hooking a group of potential lifelong repeat customers. The average family with college-age kids plans to spend $888.71 getting ready to go back to campus, about half of which will go to electronics, apparel and dorm furnishings, according to a National Retail Federation survey. “Especially when it’s freshmen going off to college for the first time, or a sophomore or junior establishing their first apartment, it’s a big chunk of change,” Retail Systems Research analyst Nikki Baird said. And while those sales are compelling in their own right, companies with more unique or engaging pitches to college students are likely to have an advantage. Read more at Chicago Tribune.