Although 2011 back-to-school per capita family spending is expected to be down slightly compared to 2010, total money spent should be higher, according to a forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and BIGresearch. Total spending on grades K-12 is expected to reach $22.8 billion, up 7% from $21.35 billion in 2010 and 31% higher than $17.42 billion in 2009.
Per Capita Spend Down Slightly
Meanwhile, the average US family will spend $603.63 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics for school-aged children K-12 this year, down fractionally from $606.40 last year but up 10% from $548.72 in 2009.
Half of Back-to-School Shoppers Look for Sales, Spend Less
According to the survey, Americans are compensating for the economy by shopping for sales (50%), purchasing more store-brand or generic items (39.9%), and comparison shopping more online (29.8%). In addition, nearly half of survey respondents said the economy is forcing them to simply spend less in general (43.7%).
Meanwhile, close to four in 10 (36.7%) respondents are using coupons more, and 13.9% say their back-to-school shopping plans will not change.
Clothing, Supplies Spending Drops
Average spending on clothing ($220.60) and school supplies ($88.99) will slightly decrease this year compared to last year. Families will also spend an average of $104.53 on shoes, a slight increase over last year.
Though average spending on computers, cell phones, mp3 players and tablet devices is expected to increase slightly to $189.51, just more than half (51.9%) of families with school-aged children plan to purchase electronics this year, down almost 19% from last year’s historically-high 63.7%.
Dept. Store Traffic Surges
Department stores are expected to see a surge in back-to-school traffic thanks to popular private labels, promotions and innovative social media campaigns. According to the survey, 57% percent of back-to-school shoppers will head to a department store, up 6% from 53.9% last year and the most in the survey’s eight-year history.
Though the majority of back-to-school shoppers plan to make at least one purchase from a discount store (68.4%), clothing stores (48.7%), office supply stores (38.0%) and electronics stores (21.7%) will also be popular. Additionally, more people this year will shop online (31.7%, up 3% from 30.8% last year) and in drug stores (21.1%, 8% higher than 19.5% last year).
Many Families Wait
While most families will begin shopping three weeks to one month before school starts (42.4%), nearly one-third (31.2%) will begin their shopping one to two weeks before school starts, up 25% from one-quarter (24.8%) last year. Some will get a jump start and begin shopping two months before the new school year (21.8%) and the remainder will shop the week school starts (2%) or after school starts (2.6%).
Teen Spending Stays Flat
The survey found that teenagers will spend about the same amount as last year for certain apparel, supplies and accessories. Teenagers are expected to spend an average of $31.64 for school items, compared to $31.74 last year. Pre-teens, largely reliant on their parents for an allowance, will spend less this year ($15.12, down 18% from $18.27 in 2010). When it comes to how much say children have in parents’ buying decisions, nearly two-thirds of parents (61.2%) say their children influence 50% or more of back-to-school purchases.