Back-to-School Likely to Cost Less

Fall spending on back-to-school supplies will tick down from its historic high in 2012, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF).



Pent-up demand and a growing population of school children put 2012 back-to-school spending over the top and left parents this year with supplies that still work and a significantly shorter shopping list, according to NRF’s poll of 5,635 consumers.

Families with school-age children will spend an average of $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down from $688.62 last year. Total spending on back-to-school and back-to-college is expected to reach $72.5 billion.

The biggest portion of back-to-school shoppers’ budgets will go toward apparel and accessories: 95% of those with school-age children will spend an average of $230.85 on fall sweaters, denim and other attire. Families will spend an average of $114.39 on shoes and an average of $90.49 on school supplies.

Fewer families with children in grades K-12 will purchase electronics (56%), and those investing in a new tablet or smartphone will spend slightly less than last year.

Eight in ten school shoppers say economic conditions will change their spending. Turning to the Internet to save money, 37% say they will do more comparative shopping online and 18.5% will shop online more often.

Almost a quarter of families (24%) with children in grades K-12 began shopping at least two months before school. Almost half (49%) will shop between three weeks and one month before school, 22% will shop one to two weeks before school, 3% will shop the week school starts and 27% will shop after the start of the season.

Though most school shoppers (67%) will visit their favorite discount store for school items as they did last year, 51.5% will shop at a clothing store, 41% will shop at an office supply store, 37% will shop online and 26% will shop at an electronics store. One in five will hit their local drug store and 14% will look for goods at thrift/resale stores.

Nearly three in five parents (60%) say their children influence at least half of their back-to-school purchases. Teens will dole out an average of $30.13 of their own money and pre-teens an average of $18.45 to help shop.