Record spending is expected for the 2019 back-to-school rush, as students—and their parents— prepare to stock up for primary school and college. From pencils and backpacks to computers and dorm refrigerators, total spending for K-12 and college is projected to reach $80.7 billion, according to an annual survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics. The NRF survey of 7,660 consumers was conducted July 1-8.
“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,” said NRF President and CEO 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.”
Looking at the breakdown, families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average $696.70, up from $684.79 last year—and topping the previous record of $688.62 in 2012. With fewer families surveyed saying they have children in grades K-12, spending is expected to total $26.2 billion, down from last year’s $27.5 billion despite the increase 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. The average household spend this year is $696.70, the highest ever recorded by NRF. Clothing and accessories will top K-12 families’ expenses at an average $239.82, followed by electronics at $203.44. College shoppers plan to spend the most on electronics ($234.69), followed by clothing and accessories ($148.54). Likewise, with fewer survey respondents saying they are attending college, spending is expected to total $54.5 billion, down from last year’s record $55.3 billion.
Digging down further, according to the survey, clothing and accessories will top K-12 family expenses at an average of $239.82, followed by electronics (computers, calculators and phones), at $203.44; shoes ($135.96) and supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunch boxes ($117.49). K-12 families plan to do most of their shopping at department stores (53%), discount stores (50%), online (49%), clothing stores (45%) and office supply stores (31%). College shoppers plan to do most shopping online (45%), then department stores (39%), discount stores (36%), college bookstores (32%) and office supply stores (29%).
An interesting factoid: Among K-12 shoppers, teens are expected to spend an average $36.71 of their own money, up from $30.88 10 years ago, while pre-teens should spend $26.40, up from $11.94 10 years ago.
“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 added. “Over the years, both teens and pre-teens are spending more of their own money on back-to-school items.”
For online purchases, 90 %of K-12 and 85% of college shoppers intend to take advantage of free shipping.
Inside Radio also reported on a separate in-depth back-to-school spending report from Retail Me Not on July 12.