Back-to-School Spending Still Strong for College Students

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Back-to-School Spending Still Strong for College Students

By Lindsay Gordon - 07/15/2009
Parents and students won’t skimp on college school supplies this year. However, back-to-school spending for grade school children is expected to experience a steep decline, according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2009 Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by Worthington, Ohio-based BIGresearch.

College-bound students and their parents will dish out 3 percent more dough than last year, spending an average of $618.12. Spending is expected to drop 7.7 percent to $548.72 for kids attending kindergarten through high school. Total back-to-school spending is expected to hit $47.5 billion, according to the study, which monitors more than 8,000 consumers.

Four out of five Americans said the economy would impact their back-to-school shopping plans. More than half (56.2 percent) of back-to-school shoppers are planning to hunt for sales more often, 49.6 percent plan to spend less overall, 41.7 percent will purchase more store brand/generic products, and 40 percent plan to increase their use of coupons.

“The economy has clearly changed the spending habits of American families, which will likely create a difficult back-to-school season for retailers,” said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of the Washington-based NRF, in a statement. “As people focus primarily on price, strong promotions and deep discounts will ultimately win over back-to-school shoppers this year.”

Electronics is expected to be the only category boasting an increase in spending for families with grade-school children. These shoppers will shell out 11 percent more this year for items such as home computers, laptops, handheld organizers or calculators. Families with college-bound students will spend 25.6 percent more.

Discount stores will attract the most shoppers for both grade school and college-bound students, capturing 74.5 percent and 53.4 percent of shoppers, respectively. Drug stores, meanwhile, will be a more popular destination this year. The channel showed a 38 percent increase this year as the choice for college-bound families and an 18 percent increase for families with students in grades K through 12.