It’s that time of year again. Kids are planning their back-to-school outfits, while parents are planning their back-to-school budgets. But according to an industry survey, if last year’s jeans still fit, a new pair may not make the shopping list.
According to the pollby the National Retail Federation (NRF), total back-to-school spending this year is anticipated to hit $26.7 billion for the K-12 set, with families spending an average of $634.78 each on things like electronics, school supplies, shoes and clothing. That’s down from last year’s high of $688.62, but still tops 2010’s average of $606.40 and 2011’s $603.63.
Families with college-bound kids will spend more than those with younger ones, but even among that demographic, spending looks like it will be down from last year. In 2012, parents sending students off to college spent an average of $907.22. This year they plan to cut that amount by $70.39, for an average of $836.83.
When factoring in both K-12 and college students, total back-to-school spending is expected to be $72.5 billion, according to the NRF forecast.
Looking good is number one
The first priority for many kids is finding the perfect first-day-of-school outfit – and family budgets reflect that. Apparel and accessories will take up the largest piece of the back-to-school budget pie, with 95.3% of survey respondents saying they will spend an average of $230.85 on new clothing. The average amount going toward footwear is $114.39, while school supplies take up the smallest chunk of change, at an average of $90.49.
Only 55.7% of K-12 families plan to spend money on electronics, and those who do will spend less ($199.05) than they did in 2012 ($217.88).
The economy factors into spending plans
For 80.5% of families, economic concerns will affect their shopping habits this season. Comparison shopping and online shopping are two ways people plan to stretch their budgets; 36.6% say they will look for the best deal online, and 18.5% will increase the amount of shopping they do online.
Those who plan to shop at brick-and-mortar stores say they’ll go to discount stores (67.1%), department stores (61.7%), clothing stores (51.5%), office supply stores (40.6%), electronics stores (25.9%) drug stores (19.6% ) and thrift shops (13.7%).
Season already in full swing
Some schools are already back in session, and some don’t start until after Labor Day, but shoppers have been stockpiling school supplies for quite a while already. Almost 24% of K-12 families say they start shopping two months before the first day back, 49% get out their lists three weeks to a month beforehand, and 22% shop one to two weeks before school starts. Only 5.4% of consumers report putting off shopping until the week school starts, or after the first day of school.
The NRF Back-to-School and Back-to-College studies were conducted between July 1st and 8th, 2013 and comprised answers from 5,635 adults.