Washington - Consumer electronics could be the one bright spot in an otherwise bleak back-to-school season.
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the retail trade association, spending on CE and computer equipment is expected to increase 11 percent this year, driven by increasingly affordable notebook and desktop computers.
The poll of 8,367 consumers, conducted earlier this month by BIGresearch, showed that the average family plans to spend $167.84 on back-to-school CE supplies, compared to $151.61 last year.
Spending in most other back-to-school categories is expected to decline, with total family expenditures falling 7.7 percent to $548.72 per household with students in grades kindergarten through 12.
Total spending on back to school is expected to fall nearly 13 percent to $17.4 billion this year.
In contrast, total back-to-college spending will slip 4 percent to $30 billion, reflecting decreased attendance rather than lower expenditures. Indeed, spending on CE and computer-related products is expected to increase nearly 26 percent for college students, to $266.08 per family from $211.89 last year, as laptops become a requirement for many colleges and universities across the country.
Combined back-to-school and back-to-college spending will decline 7.6 percent to $47.50 billion, the survey showed.
While discount stores will remain the most popular destination for back-to-school shoppers, sited by 74.5 percent of respondents, the number of people planning to buy school items at drug stores is expected to rise substantially. According to the survey, more than one in five families (21.5 percent) will shop at drug stores for back-to-school supplies, an 18 percent increase over last year's 18.2 percent. Drug stores have become more popular recently as their merchandise mix has broadened beyond health and beauty products to include school supplies, small electronics, and even groceries, the NRF said.