NRF Survey: Back-To-School Spending On The Rise In 2014

According to NRF’s 2014 Back-to-School Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5% from $634.78 last year. However, total spending on back to school will drop slightly, to $26.5 billion, as the survey found there are slightly fewer students in households this summer.

 “Slow improvements in the economy may have contributed to the growth in confidence among back-to-school shoppers, and while we are encouraged by the overall tone of the results and expect to see continued improvement in consumer spending through the year, we know Americans are still grappling with their purchase decisions every day,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Throughout the history of this survey, spending has fluctuated based on family needs each year, and this summer, we expect parents to continue to use caution, but also make smart decisions for their family budget that is a good balance between what their children ‘want’ and what they actually need.”   

NRF this year broke out spending by grade, and according to the survey, families with high school students will spend the most. The survey found the average family shopping for high school students will spend $682.99, while spending on middle school/junior high comes in a close second at $682.13. Parents with elementary school-age children will spend an average of $580.94.

Overall, every category will see an increase in spending.

While department and discount stores will be the most visited among school shoppers, millennial students may be driving an increase in planned spending at specialty stores. The survey found 53.8% of back-to-school shoppers will shop a clothing store, up from 51.5% last year and a survey high; 27.5% will shop at electronics stores, up from 25.9% last year and another survey high. Six in 10 (64.4%) will visit discount stores, 59.1% will shop at department stores, 42% will shop at office supply stores, 38.2% will shop online, and 20.5% will shop at drug stores.

For the first time, NRF asked school shoppers about their plans to shop at local/small businesses for their needs: 17.4% will support local/small retailer to buy school items.

Men are expected to spend more for back to school this summer. According to the survey, men will spend an average $754.30 on school items, up 12% from last year. Women will spend an average of $588.80, down $11 from $599.30 last year. Additionally, 25-34 year olds will be the highest spending age group at $822.01, followed by 35-44 year olds ($716.78), 45-54 year olds ($694.83), and 18-24 year olds ($682.66).


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