NRF Predicts that Back-to-School Spending Will Reach $26.7 Billion

This article contains excerpts from a press release published on the National Retail Federation (NRF) website entitled “On The Heels Of Historically High Back-To-School Season, 2013 Spending Expectations Decrease.” [Read the full press release.]

July 26, 2013 | According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual back-to-school spending survey, families with school-age children will spend an average of $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics in preparation for the upcoming school year – down from $688.62 last year. Total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $26.7 billion.

“The good news is that consumers are spending, but they are doing so with cost and practicality in mind. Having splurged on their growing children’s needs last year, parents will ask their kids to reuse what they can for the upcoming school season,” stated NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a press release. “As they continue to grapple with the impact of increased payroll taxes, Americans will look to cut corners where they can, but will buy what their kids need. It’s important to note, however, that spending levels are still well above where they were a few years ago.”

The survey found that 95.3% of shoppers with school-age children will spend about $230 on fall attire, $114 on shoes and $90 on school supplies. Eighty percent of shoppers stated that economic conditions will affect their spending, with about 37% stating that they will do comparative shopping online. About half of those surveyed said they would shop three weeks to one month before school; nearly 24% of families said they would shop at least two months before school (i.e. right now); and about 22% of families reported that they will shop one to two weeks before school starts.

“We continue to see a shift in shopping patterns during big spending ‘events’, where consumers typically head out early to take advantage of fresh inventory options and initial markdowns, then see a lull only to rev back up again when final sales appear,” said Pam Goodfellow, director at Prosper Consumer Insights, the firm that conducted the survey. “Hoping to spread out their budgets but still reap the benefits of getting the products their children want, parents this back-to-school season will comparison shop online and around town at their child’s favorite stores, potentially even more than once, as they seek to find bargains and products that offer the best value.”

Nearly 60% of parents surveyed said their children’s opinions will influence back-to-school purchases. Many kids will even chip in for some small items. Tweens will reportedly spend about $18 and teens will spend about $30 of their own money towards items they really want.

The full press release is available on the NRF website.