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Back-to-college spending will hit record high

News, 17 July 2017
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WASHINGTON DC: Retailers in the US will be encouraged to learn that back-to-college spending is expected to reach an all-time high of $54.1bn this year, while back-to-school spending is forecast to reach $29.5bn.

Parents and students are therefore on track to spend a total of $83.6bn in 2017, up more than 10% from the $75.8bn they spent last year, according to the latest estimates from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The trade association's survey of more than 7,220 consumers, which was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, revealed that college students and their families plan to spend an average of $969.88, up from last year's $888.71.

Meanwhile, families with children at elementary or high school plan to spend an average of $687.72, their second-highest rate of spending since 2012.

Looking in detail at the consumer segments that stand to gain most from this year's back-to-college spend, the NRF found electronics ($12.8bn) will be the main beneficiary.

Almost two-thirds (61%) of back-to-college shoppers plan to purchase a laptop, followed by a tablet (28%), electronic accessories (26%), a calculator (24%) and a smartphone/mobile phone (21%).

The clothing sector is expected to take $8bn from back-to-college shoppers, while $7.5bn is forecast to be spent on snacks and other food items.

Other significant consumer segments include dorm/apartment furnishings ($5.9bn), shoes ($4.5bn), personal care items ($4.5bn), school supplies ($3.9bn), gift cards ($3.9bn) and branded collegiate gear ($3.2bn).

As for back-to-school shoppers, their main spend is expected to go on clothing ($10.2bn), followed by electronics ($8.8bn), shoes ($5.6bn) and school supplies ($4.9bn).

Commenting on the findings, Matthew Shay, NRF President and CEO, said: "Families are now in a state of mind where they feel a lot more confident about the economy.

"With stronger employment levels and a continued increase in wages, consumers are spending more and we are optimistic that they will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year."

Data sourced from National Retail Federation; additional content by WARC staff

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