Back-to-School Spending this Year to Top $18 Billion: Study

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Back-to-School Spending this Year to Top $18 Billion: Study

WASHINGTON -- Families with school-age children are expected to spend $563.49 on back-to-school non-foods merchandise, up 6.9 percent from last year's $527.08 average, and total back-to-school spending this year is expected to reach $18.4 billion, according to the National Retail Federation's 2007 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back-to-School survey.

Though the summer is still in full swing, families across the nation are already planning back-to-school shopping trips, according to the survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

The electronics category will see the biggest increase in sales this year, with families spending 13.0 percent more on electronics than last year ($129.24 vs. $114.38), the results indicated. Families are expected to spend $94.02 on school supplies, up from $86.22 a year ago.

"Electronics have evolved from luxuries to necessities, not only for college students but also for their younger siblings," said NRF president and c.e.o. Tracy Mullin in a statement. "While some students may be pleading with mom and dad for an iPod or a cell phone, parents are also investing in desktop or laptop computers, educational software, and printers to support their children's learning."

More parents will head online for back-to-school items this year, according to the survey. The percentage of parents who plan to shop online this year is expected to rise 40.8 percent, from 15.2 percent last year to 21.4 percent this year. Young parents between the ages of 18-34 are the most likely to shop online for children's merchandise, with nearly one-third of them planning to use the Web to find back-to-school items.

Though discounters will remain the most popular destination for back-to-school shopping, fewer consumers plan to hit mass merchants this year, with 67.6 percent of parents planning to shop at discount stores compared with 72.2 percent last year. All other categories included in the survey are expected to see traffic increase, as consumers will be shopping more at office supplies stores (41.4 percent vs. 35.8 percent last year), drug stores (17.9 percent vs. 16.3 percent), department stores (54.9 percent vs. 53.3 percent) and specialty stores (31.6 percent vs. 30.9 percent.

Supermarkets were not mentioned in the survey.