The back-to-school and college shopping season is in full swing, but many parents and college students say they are waiting for the best deals to complete their shopping lists, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics. Total spending for K-12 schools and college combined is projected to reach $82.8 billion, nearly as high as last year’s $83.6 billion.
“With the economy thriving thanks to tax reform and growing consumer confidence, we expect to see a very strong season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “College spending is expected to be at its highest level ever, and back-to-school will be one of the three highest years on record. Whether shoppers buy now or wait until the last minute, retailers are ready with everything they need for a successful start of the school year.”
Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average $684.79 each, compared with last year’s $687.72 for a total of $27.5 billion. That’s the third-highest total in the history of the survey following a peak of $30.3 billion in 2012 and last year’s $29.5 billion.
Those with young people heading to college as well as college and graduate students purchasing for themselves plan to spend an average $942.17 each, down from last year’s $969.88 for a total of $55.3 billion. That’s an all-time high in the history of the survey, up from last year’s previous record of $54.1 billion.
According to the survey, back-to-school shoppers plan to spend the most on clothing ($236.90). In addition to apparel, back-to-school shoppers also plan to spend:
- $187.10 on electronics such as computers, calculators or phones
- $138.66 on shoes
- $122.13 on supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks, and lunchboxes
“The biggest change we are seeing in back-to-school spending this year is coming from electronics,” NRF Vice President for Research Mark Mathews said. “Items like laptops, tablets, and smartphones are now an everyday part of household life and aren’t necessarily a purchase parents save for the start of the school year, resulting in the slight decrease in spending for this category.”