Washington - Back-to-school spending
on CE and computers is expected to increase 12 percent to nearly $7.2 billion
this year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
The industry trade group based its
projection on an annual consumer survey, conducted by BIGresearch, showing that
families with kids in grades K-12 plan to spend an average of $189.51 on
computers, cellphones, MP3 players, tablets and other devices, up from $181.61
Despite the increase in per-family spending,
the number of families that plan to purchase CE fell to 51.9 percent from last
year's historically high 63.7 percent.
Both indicators fell for college students and
their parents. According to the survey, only 45.8 percent of college families
will buy CE, the lowest level since 2005, while the average household
expenditure will fall 11 percent to $209.93.
Nevertheless, electronics, rather
than clothing, school supplies and dorm furnishings, will still take up the
largest portion of college shoppers' budgets, with total purchases nearing $12
billion, an 8 percent decline year over year.
adults are often the first in line to buy the latest tablet device, smartphone
or MP3 player, so many college students are already armed with the latest
gadgets they'll bring with them to campus," said Pam Goodfellow, Consumer
Insights Director, BIGresearch. "A decline in electronics spending could also
be due to the fact that many popular college items, like laptops, have
experienced huge drops in price over the last several years."
Total K-12 and college spending is
expected to rise nearly 25 percent this year to $68.8 billion, even as parents
look to curtail costs. "Families aren't opposed to spending on what they need,
but parents want their children to take a good look around at what they already
have before deciding what to buy for back to school this year," said NRF
president/CEO Matthew Shay. "Retailers understand consumers are extremely
focused on value and are taking this opportunity to offer substantial savings
According to the survey, Americans
are compensating for the economy by purchasing more store-brand or generic
items (39.9 percent), comparison shopping more online (29.8 percent), and
shopping for sales (50 percent). Additionally, nearly half of survey
respondents said the economy is forcing them to simply spend less in general
Discount stores remain the most
popular retail channel, with 68.4 percent of K-12 families and 47.6 percent of
college families planning to do their back-to-school shopping there. CE
specialty stores will draw 21.7 percent of grade-school households and 19.6
percent of college households, while online shopping will grow from 30.8 percent
to 31.7 percent for the K-12 group year over year, and will rise from 28.6
percent to 33.4 percent for the college crowd.