LOS ANGELES — As students head back to school and recent graduates start their first jobs, many are using gift registries to nab items to set up dorm rooms and furnish apartments.
The Container Store, Bed Bath & Beyond and online retailers with names such as DormSmart.com and DormCo.com are encouraging college students to register and clue in relatives who need help with gift ideas.
"I registered at the Container Store for a bunch of different things for my dorm," said 18-year-old Andrea Castruita of San Diego, who is attending college in Boston. "Then I told my friends and family where I was registered, and if they wanted to get anything they could look at the list."
The sluggish economy is pushing cash-strapped students and parents to ask grandma and grandpa to chip in and buy sheets, backpacks and laptops. Even schools are using the services to get supplies for students.
DormSmart.com, an online dorm supply store, has seen the number of students registering jump 300 percent in the past three years, said chief executive Christi Leslie.
She said the economy has pushed more college-bound teens to register for items they might have bought in better times.
Tamara Moores, 25, said asking for gifts never crossed her mind in the last months of medical school in Loma Linda, Calif. But then her mom mentioned that far-flung family members were eagerly asking for gift ideas.
So Moores registered for about 15 practical items to outfit her new apartment, including a blender, knives, a milk steamer and other kitchenware.
"It's stuff that is really, really useful that I wouldn't buy for myself," she said. "And it was great for the family members who wanted to give more than money. They knew I would like it."