Getting kids ready for school isn't expected to be cheap: The National Retail Federation is predicting back-to-school spending will average more than $688 per K-12 student, up from $603 last year.
That's welcome news for retailers, as back-to-school spending is expected to count for $30.3 billion in total sales. Combined with an additional $50 billion or so in spending to get students ready to leave for college, that makes summer school shopping the second-biggest annual retail event, behind only the winter holidays, NRF says.
But everything isn't rosy. Even though shoppers are planning to spend more on backpacks, pencils, computers and other school-related supplies than last year, 85 percent of those surveyed by NRF said concerns about the economy will influence how, what, when and where they shop.
Here are a few more quick points from the NRF:
- Expect pretty good discounts. "We fully expect retailers to be aggressive with their promotions both in-store and online, keeping an eye on inventory levels as families look to spread out their shopping throughout the entire summer," said NRF chief executive Matthew Shay, in a statement.
- The percentage of shoppers surveyed who are buying at least one back-to-school item online has grown from 10.9 percent in 2003 to 39.6 percent this year.
- That 39.6 percent of shoppers buying things online are planning to spend $874, significantly more than the survey's average (I wonder if online shopping is correlated with a higher income level, or if online shoppers are more likely to be purchasing big-ticket items, like a new laptop).
- The number of people who need to do back-to-school shopping for K-12 students is pretty big: 3 in 10 families noted they have children ages 6 to 17.
- Preparing to send a college freshman away to school is the most expensive back-to-school shopping you can do. The average cost for outfitting a college freshman: $929. Don't worry, though: That drops to $680 for seniors.