WASHINGTON — While the Feds and discounters disagree on how June sales were, and top CE retailers and distributors are preparing for a competitive Christmas season, indications are that back-toschool CE sales will be up this year.
A poll conducted from June 30 through July 7 by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation (NRF) showed that consumers plan to spend some $19.4 billion on computers, calculators, handhelds and other electronic devices this season, a 6 percent increase over last year.
A separate report by the International Council of shopping Centers (ICSC) released last week indicates a similar increase in CE sales.
The NRF report shows that for gradeschoolers, CE sales could grow as much as 20 percent year over year, with parents spending $6.4 billion on CE supplies, or an average of $181.61 per household.
In contrast, CE sales for collegebound kids are expected to be flat to last summer but nearly double the grade-school take at $13 billion, due in part to the inclusion of additional categories such as cellphones, personal media players and digital cameras.
Average projected CE sales are $236.94 per college buyer.
Discount stores are the predominant back-to-school shopping destination for grade-school households, at 71 percent. CE specialty stores ranked sixth at 23 percent, up from 21 percent last year, trailing office supply stores (41 percent) and e-tail sites (31 percent).
For older students, the majority of back-to-college purchases will be made at discount stores, department stores and college bookstores. Only 18 percent of college households said they planned to shop a CE specialty store, down from 21 percent last year, and surprisingly only 29 percent cited online stores, which was unchanged from last year.
Total grade-school and college spending on all back-to-school merchandise is projected to rise 16 percent to $55.1 billion this season, the survey shows, representing the second biggest consumer spending event for retailers behind the winter holidays.
The International Council of shopping Centers (ICSC) report is based on the U.S. Commerce Department’s monthly retail sales tallies and pegged back-to-school CE growth at 5 percent, up from a 5.9 percent drop last year.
“Overall we are projecting BTS season sales to increase by a solid 5.4 percent, potentially the strongest showing since 2005 (6.4 percent growth),” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC.