Total Back-to-College Spending Up

July 19, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

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

Total spending on back-to-college merchandise should slightly increase this year compared to 2009, but average per capita family spending will be a little lower, according to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIGresearch.

Total Spending Rises 12% from ’09
Spending on back-to-college merchandise should total $33.77 billion, up 12% from $30.08 billion in 2009 and 8% from $31.26 billion in 2008, according to the “2010 Back to School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.”

Average Family Spends 0.3% Less than ’09
Despite the increase in total back-to-college spending, the average American family will spend 0.3% less this year ($616.13) than last year ($618.12). However, this year’s spending will represent a 2.8% hike from $599.38 in 2008.


Electronics Leading Purchase Item
The average family will spend the most money ($236.94, or 38.4% of total expenditures) on computers, cell phones, MP3 players, cameras and other electronics; down 11% from the $266.08 estimated last year when spending on electronics reached an all-time high. Other expenditures include shoes ($62.20, 10%), collegiate branded gear or supplies ($36.26, 5.9%) and school supplies ($62.91, 10.12%).

College students will spend significantly more on dorm or apartment furnishings this year, signaling a change from last year when more students lived at home to save their family money. Families are expected to dish out an average of $96.94 (15.7% of total expenditures) on bedding, microwaves, small refrigerators and chairs, up 21% from $80.06 last year.

Economy Affects Shopping Habits
When asked how the state of the U.S. economy will impact their back to college purchases, 34.1% of families responded they would buy more store brand or generic products, up 4.9% from 32.5% last year. Families will also shop online more often (18.2%) or share or borrow textbooks instead of buying new ones (19.3%). One in five (20.6%) said their back to college plans will not change.

More than Half of Collegians Shop at Discounters
Most college students (53.8%) will buy products from discount stores, 43% will shop at their college bookstores, another 42.5% will head to department stores and more than one-third (36.5%) will shop at office supply stores. Other popular shopping destinations will include online (28.6%), clothing stores (28.2%), electronics stores (18%) and drug stores (17%).

Most Shop at Least One Month Ahead of Time
More than half of college shoppers will begin their shopping at least one month before the fall semester begins, with 33.1% starting one month early and another 20.2% starting two months early. Of those waiting a bit longer, 23.2 percent will go one to two weeks before school starts, 12.6% will shop the week school starts and 10.9% will wait until classes have already started.

Fewer Collegians Live at Home
The survey found that just more than half (51.8%) of college students will live with their parents, down 11.4% from 58.5% who lived at home last year when money was tighter and jobs were more scarce. That being said, those planning on living at home encompass more than any other group. Nearly one-quarter (23%) will live off campus in an apartment or house, 18.8% will live in a dorm room or other college housing and 2.% will live in a sorority or fraternity house.

Back-to-School Sales Forecast to Beat Past 2 Years
2010 back-to-school per capita family spending on K-12 students will rise 10.5% from 2009 levels and 2% from 2008 levels, according to other 2010 Back to School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey data.

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.

Combined K-12 and college spending will reach $55.12 billion, up 16% from $47.5 billion in 2009 and 7.3% from $51.36 billion in 2008.

About the Data: The 2010 Back to School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from June 30 – July 7, 2010.

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