Families with school-age children are planning to spend more money on back-to-school shopping than they did last year, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation.
Total spending among K-12 and college consumers is projected to reach $75.8 billion nationwide this year, up from $68 billion last year, the trade group found.
“Families are still looking for bargains but there are signs that they are less worried about the economy than in the past,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “We fully expect retailers to be aggressive with offering great deals both in stores and online for back-to-school shoppers.”
Families with children entering kindergarten through 12th grade are on track to spend an average of $637.57 on clothing and accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies, up from $630.36 last year.
Overall, K-12 spending on those things is expected to reach $27.3 billion this year, according to the NRF, up almost 10 percent from $24.9 billion last year.
K-12 parents plan to spend the most money on clothing (an average of $235.39) and electronics ($204.96), the survey found.
The NRF cites growing consumer confidence in the economy as a main factor in people spending more money as they get ready to head back to school.
While 43 percent of those surveyed said they are shopping for sales and 32 percent are comparing prices online, the number who plan to spend less overall fell from 27 percent last year to 23 percent this year.
The annual survey was conducted for the NRF by Ohio-based Prosper Insights and polled 6,809 consumers between June 30 and July 6.
“The budget-conscious consumer is not forgetting about price, quality or value, and we continue to see this when it comes to back-to-school shopping,” Prosper analyst Pam Goodfellow, who helped conduct the survey, said in a statement. “That is why many parents are taking advantage of shopping early, scouring ads and websites for the best deals, and taking advantage of free shipping with online purchases.”
Families with children in college plan to spend slightly less this year than last year on back-to-school shopping. According to the survey, they plan to spend an average of $888.71 this year, down a little from $899.18 last year.
Even with that slight dip, the NRF found overall spending among families with college students is expected to grow – from $43.1 billion last year to $48.5 billion this year – because more consumers will be doing back-to-school shopping.
Those heading back to college typically spend more on school needs than younger students, Shay noted.
“Whether it’s laptops for class or mini-fridges for the dorm, college simply costs more than the lower grades,” he said. “Some of these big-ticket items can last all four years but when they need to be replaced it’s a bigger investment than pencils and lunchboxes.”
College consumers plan to spend the most money, $11.5 billion, on electronics, followed by $7.5 billion on clothing and $6.2 billion on dorm furnishings, the survey found.
In Connecticut, all purchases on clothing and footwear priced at below $100 is tax free through Saturday, Aug. 27.