NRF: Back-to-school spending will drop

Washington, D.C. – Compared to a record-breaking back-to-school shopping season in 2012, this year’s back-to-school season will not be as impressive. New figures from the NRF and Prosper Insights show that families with school-age children will spend an average $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down about 8% from $688.62 last year. Total spending on back-to-school is expected to reach $26.7 billion.

The biggest portion of back-to-school shoppers’ budgets will go toward new apparel and accessories, as 95.3% of back-to-school shoppers will spend an average of $230.85 on clothing. In addition, families will spend large portions of the back-to-school budgets on shoes ($114.39) and school supplies ($90.49).

Only 55.7% of back-to-school shoppers will purchase electronics, and tablet and smartphone shoppers will spend an average of $199.05, down almost 9% from $217.88 last year. Eight-in-10 back-to-school shoppers say the economy is affecting their purchase decisions and 36.6% plan to do more comparative shopping online, while 18.5% intend to shop online more often.

About 24% of back-to-school shoppers have already started making purchases, up almost 10% from roughly 22% last year and the highest percentage in the NRF study’s 11-year history.

“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.” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”

In addition, college students and their families will spend an average $836.83 on apparel, electronics, dorm furnishings and more, down almost 8% from $907.22 last year. Total spending for back-to-college is expected to reach $45.8 billion.