Back-to-School Spending Grows in 2012

WASHINGTON DC, Jul 19, 2012/ —Great news for retailers! According to NRF’s 2012 Back-to-School spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, the average person with children in grades K-12 will spend $688.62 on their children, up from $603.63 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $30.3 billion.

Combined K-12 and college spending will reach $83.8 billion, serving as the second biggest consumer spending event for retailers behind the winter holidays.

Not surprising, parents will spend the most on clothing, accessories and electronics this summer. Realistic about the cost of select items and the necessities needed for the school year, parents estimate they will spend an average of $246.10 on clothes and $217.88 on electronics.

Nearly six in 10 (59.6%) will invest in some sort of electronic device, a sharp increase from the 51.9 percent who planned to do so last year. Additionally, the average person with children in grades K-12 will spend $129.20 on shoes and $95.44 on school supplies such as notebooks, pencils and backpacks.

After several years of uncertainty it seems the economy is still impacting how Americans shop. From shopping for sales more often to contemplating their children’s athletic and academic activities, this year 84.8 percent of consumers with school-aged children say the economy will impact their spending plans in some way.

Specifically, more people plan to shop for sales more often (51.1% vs. 50.0% last year) and cut back on their children’s extracurricular activities (11.0% vs. 10.2% last year.) Savvy shoppers looking to save some money will shop online more often (17.9% vs. 15.3% last year) and comparison shop online (32.1% vs. 29.8% last year.)

If there’s one thing the economy has changed it’s the way people shop. This year more families say they will shop at department stores and online for school items as they look to get the best bang for their buck.

Nearly six in 10 (59.9%) will take advantage of department stores’ private label offerings and exclusive product lines, up from 57.0 percent last year and the highest in the survey’s 10-year history. Parents will also scour the Internet for free-shipping and other promotions. Nearly four in 10 (39.6%) will take their school shopping lists online, up from 31.7 percent last year and nearly doubling since 2007 when 21.4 percent planned to shop online.

Discount stores will be the most popular shopping destination, however, with 67.1 percent planning to shop there for school items. Clothing stores (52.0%), office supplies stores (42.0%), drug stores (22.7%) and thrift stores (14.4%) will also see their share of back-to-school shoppers.

Electronic stores, popular with families looking to invest in smartphones, tablets and MP3 players for their children, will see a nice bump in traffic this year (26.3% vs. 21.7% last year.)

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