Back-to-School Sales Forecast to Beat Past 2 Years

July 16, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

2010 back-to-school per capita family spending will rise 10.5% from 2009 levels and 2% from 2008 levels, according to data from the National Retail Federation ((NRF) and BIGresearch.

Average Family Will Spend $606.40

The average US family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics for school-aged children K-12 this year, 10.5% more than $548.72 last year, and 2% more than $594.24 in 2008. Total spending on school-aged children in grades K-12 is expected to reach $21.35 billion, up 22.5% from $17.42 billion in 2009 and 6.2% from $20.1 billion in 2008.

Parents Seek Discounts
As a result of the continuing recession, parents will actively seek discounts even as they spend more. This year’s survey found that 44.3% of Americans will buy more store brand or generic products, compared to 41.7% last year. In addition, more parents will comparatively shop online (30.3% compared to 26.4% in 2009.)


The most common method of reducing the cost of back-to-school shopping is shopping for sales more often (53.3%). And despite general plans to spend more this year than in 2009 or 2008, 42.6% of parents say they will spend less overall. Another 29.8% will make do with last year’s back-to-school items.

However, there are some areas where parents are reluctant to cut spending. Only 13.3% plan to cut back on extracurricular activities or sports, and an even smaller percentage will postpone educational investments such as a family computer (6.8%). Only 8.1% say the economy will affect their decision on whether a child should attend private or public school.

Regardless of how parents approach back-to-school spending this year, most intend on making some changes. Only 14.3% say back-to-school plans will not change.

Apparel Represents 37% of Spending
The average family with school-aged kids expects to spend $225.47 on jeans, shirts and other types of clothing, representing about 37% of total spending. In addition, families are expected to spend an average of $181.60 on their children’s electronic or computer-related school needs (30% of total budget), $102.93 on shoes (17% of total budget) and $96.39 (16% of total budget) on school supplies.


Discounters Draw Back-to-School Business
As far as where families will shop this year, seven in 10 (71.2%) will head to a discount store and more than half (53.9%) will visit a department store. Other popular shopping destinations include clothing stores (49%), electronics stores (23%), office supply stores (41.2%), drug stores (19.5%) and thrift stores (17%). In addition, more people will shop online this year (30.8% compared to 22.2% last year.)

Teens Pitch In
The survey found that teenagers and pre-teens will dish out more of their own money for apparel, supplies and accessories this year. Teenagers are expected to shell out an average of $31.74 for school items, up slightly from $30.88 last year. Pre-teens will spend an average of $18.27, up 5.3% from $11.94 in 2009.

In exchange for pitching in, teens are obtaining say in their back-to-school purchases. When it comes to how much say children have in parents’ buying decisions, six in 10 adults (61.1%) say their children influence 50% or more of their back-to-school purchases.

Shopping Starts Early
Nearly half (47.6%) of families will begin their shopping three weeks to one month before school starts and one-quarter (24.8%) will start one to two weeks before school begins. Some will get a jump start and begin shopping two months before the new school year (21.6%). Three percent will wait until the week school starts or even after school begins.

Summer Spending Rises
Consumer spending on a recent major summer event, Father’s Day, also increased compared to 2009, according to NRF and BIGresearch data. Consumer spending for this year’s Father’s Day holiday (Sunday, June 20, 2010) was expected to total $9.8 billion, a 4.2% increase from $9.4 billion in 2009. Average spending per person was forecast to equal $94.32, a 3.8% jump from $90.89 last year.

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