Calling this year’s season a “stock-up” cycle — rather than a “make do” — the NRF’s annual survey estimated total spending for K-12 and college will reach $75.8 billion, up from $68 billion in 2015.
NRF said its findings are consistent with a pattern in which spending often increases one year as families stock up on supplies, only to drop off the next as they get another year out of such “longer-lasting” products as computers. Spending then increases in the third year as part of the replacement cycle.
According to the survey, K-12 families plan to spend a total of $8.27 billion on electronics, with the average spend of $204.06. College students and their families, meanwhile, are anticipated to spend a total of $11.54 billion on electronics, with an average spend of $211.33.
“Families are still looking for bargains, but there are signs that they are less worried about the economy than in the past,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Heading into the second half of the year, we are optimistic that overall economic growth and consumer spending will continue to improve as they did in the first two quarters of the year. We fully expect retailers to be aggressive with offering great deals both in stores and online for back to school shoppers. And retailers will keep a close eye on inventory levels as families spread out their shopping throughout the summer.”
When K-12 Families Will Start Shopping
A month to two months out from the beginning of school: 73 percent (vs. last year’s 62 percent)
The last week or two: 22 percent (vs. 30 percent)
The week school starts: 2.1 percent (vs. 4.3 percent)
After school starts: 2.7 percent (vs. 3 percent)
When College Families Will Start Shopping
A month to two months out from the beginning of school: 60 percent (vs. last year’s 61 percent)
The last week or two: 25 percent (vs. 24 percent)
The week school starts: 6.4 percent (vs. 8.4 percent)
After school starts: 8.5 percent (vs. 6.8 percent)
Why They Are Shopping Early
To spread out their budgets: 75 percent
Don’t want to miss out on back-to-school sales: 63 percent
To avoid crowds: 51 percent
Families who said they will shop for sales: 43 percent (vs. last year’s 41 percent)
Compare prices online: 32 percent (vs. 31 percent).
Said they will spend less this year: 23 percent (vs. 27 percent)
Said economy has no effect on plans: 27 percent (vs. 24 percent)
NRF’s study, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, surveyed 6,809 consumers during the June 30 to July 6 period.