More Families Focused on Generic Products as Back-to-School Sales Rise

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More Families Focused on Generic Products as Back-to-School Sales Rise


The National Retail Federation’s 2010 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back to School survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average American family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics.

This is up from $548.72 last year and close to the $594.24 average spent in 2008. Total spending on school-age children in grades K-1212 is expected to reach $21.35 billion. NRF reports combined K-12 and college spending will reach $55.12 billion, serving as the second biggest consumer-spending event for retailers, behind the winter holidays.

“We are encouraged by the fact that parents are eager to start their back-to-school shopping this year, but the industry still remains cautiously optimistic about recovery,” said NRF president and CEO Matt Shay. “As the second half of the year gets underway, retailers will gauge their customers’ spending appetites, which often serve as a bellwether for the all-important holiday season.”

This year’s survey found that 44.3 percent of Americans will buy more store-brand or generic products, compared with 41.7 percent last year. Additionally, more parents will comparative shop online (30.3 percent vs. 26.4 percent in 2009).

Spending on apparel will take up the majority of consumers’ budgets, with the average family of school-age kids expected to spend $225.47 on jeans, shirts and other types of clothing. Parents are expected to spend an average of $181.60 on their children’s electronic or computer-related school needs. Families will also spend an average of $102.93 on shoes and $96.39 on school supplies.

Seven in 10 (71.2 percent) will head to a discount store and more than half (53.9 percent) will visit their favorite department store. More people will shop online this year (30.8 percent vs. 22.2 percent last year.)

While spending on school items for K-12 students is expected to increase this year, spending on college-specific items will remain similar to last year. NRF’s 2010 Back to College Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average college student’s family will spend $616.13 on new apparel, furniture for dorms or apartments, school supplies and electronics. Students and their families spent only slightly more last year ($618.12). Total spending on back-to-college merchandise is expected to reach $33.77 billion.

The survey found that just over half (51.8 percent) of college students will live with their parents, down from the 58.5 percent who lived at home last year when money was tighter and jobs were more scarce. That being said, those planning on living at home encompass more than any other group.

When asked how the state of the U.S. economy will affect their back-to-college purchases, 34.1 percent of families responded that they would buy more store-brand or generic products, up from 32.5 percent last year. Families will also shop online more often (18.2 percent).

Most college students (53.8 percent) will buy what they need from discount stores, 42.5 percent will head to department stores, and more than one-third (36.5 percent) will shop at office supply stores.

NRF’s 2010 Back to School and Back to College Consumer Intentions and Actions Surveys were conducted from June 30 to July 7. The consumer polls of 9,009 consumers have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

Worthington, Ohio-bsed BIGresearch ( provides behavior analysis in areas of products and services, retail, financial services, automotive and media.

The Washington-based National Retail Federation’s ( global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 foreign countries.