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Back-To-School CE Sales Expected To Soar

Washington — Back-to-school sales of consumer electronics and computer-related products are expected to soar 85 percent year-over-year to $3.8 billion, according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The $1.5-billion spike represents a sharp rebound from steep declines in CE and PC sales during the 2005 back-to-school season, when less than $2.1 billion worth of those products were purchased, the trade association said.

CE/PC was the second-largest category in the survey, following only clothing and accessories at $7.6 billion. Total back-to-school spending is estimated to reach $17.6 billion, up from $13.4 billion last year.

On an individual basis, the average consumer is expected to spend $114.38 on back-to-school CE and computer-related products this year.

Besides being a volume sell-through period, back-to-school also serves as an important bellwether for the holiday season, said Tracy Mullin, president/CEO of NRF. “Retailers will be tracking the performance of apparel and electronics very closely to ensure that their stores have the right merchandise mix for the fourth quarter,” she said.

The survey, conducted by BIGresearch from July 5-12, also showed that one in six parents (16.5 percent) will begin shopping for back-to-school merchandise at least two months before school starts in response to special promotions and offers. Close to half (41.9 percent) will begin shopping three weeks to one month before school opens, and one in three (32.5 percent) will put off shopping until one to two weeks before school begins.

According to the 9,000 consumers surveyed, discount stores will remain popular back-to-school shopping destinations, with nearly three-quarters (72.2 percent) of shoppers heading to discounters to purchase items on their lists. Specialty stores will see increased traffic this year, with close to a third shopping at their favorite electronics or clothing store (30.9 percent in 2006 vs. 18.8 percent in 2005). Other popular channels include office supply stores (35.8 percent), drug stores (16.3 percent) and online (15.2 percent).