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Back-To-School CE Sales Expected To Grow

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.