As students gear up to go back to school and college, families plan to spend more than ever on supplies ranging from pencils and backpacks to computers and dorm refrigerators, according to the National Retail Federations annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics.
“Consumers are in a strong position given the nation’s growing economy, and we see this reflected in what they say they will spend on back- to-class items this year,” says NRF President Matthew Shay.
“We’re expecting record spending, and retailers are ready to provide students with all the items they need for a successful school year.”
Prosper Insights Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist says, “Back-to-class shoppers still have the bulk of their shopping to do and are waiting to see what the best deals and promotions will be at a variety of different retailers.”
Families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average $696.70. That’s up from $684.79 last year and tops the previous record of $687.72 set in 2017, NRF says.
With fewer families saying they have children in grades K-12, spending is expected to total $26.2 billion, down from last year’s $27.5 billion in spite of the rise in per-household spending.
Families with college students are expected to spend an average $976.78, which is up from last year’s $942.17 and tops the previous record of $969.88 that was set in 2017.
However, fewer respondents reported attending college, which means that spending by and for college students is expected to total just $54.5 billion, down from last year’s record $55.3 billion.
Another sales number impacted by other demographic changes is total spending for K-12 schools and college combined, which is projected to reach $80.7 billion, down from last year’s $82.8 billion. NRF points out that this is largely because of the decreased number of households with children in elementary through high school.
Clothing and accessories will top K-12 families’ expenses at an average $239.82; followed by electronics such as computers, calculators and phones ($203.44); shoes ($135.96); and supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunch boxes ($117.49).
K-12 families say they plan to do most of their shopping at department stores (53%), discount stores (50%), online (49%), clothing stores (45%) and office supply stores (31%).
Also, among K-12 shoppers, NRF said teens will spend an average $36.71 of their own money, up from $30.88 seen 10 years ago, and pre-teens The survey found 89% of both K-12 and college $26.40, up from $11.94 they spent 10 years ago. shoppers still had half or more of their purchases left to complete. Of those, 49% said they were waiting for the best deals for items on their lists.
“Members of Generation Z are clearly becoming more involved with back-to-school purchasing decisions rather than leaving the choices up to mom and dad,” Shay notes. “Over the years, both teens and pre-teens are spending more of their own money on back-to-school items.”
College shoppers plan to spend the most on electronics ($234.69), followed by clothing and accessories ($148.54), dorm and apartment furnishings ($120.19) and food items ($98.72).
They plan to do most of their shopping online (45%), followed by department stores (39%), discount stores (36%), college bookstores (32%) and office supply stores (29%). Spending on college-branded items is expected to average $62.22, up 17% from last year.
For online purchases, 90% of the K-12 and 85% of college shoppers say they plan to take advantage of free shipping.