NRF Expects Pullback in B-T-S Spending

Back-to-school shopping will be a somber affair this year, according to new data released by the National Retail Federation.

In its 2009 Back-to-School Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey, NRF forecasted b-t-s spending to shrink by 7.7 percent on average per family, to $549, while footwear purchases will decrease by 15 percent, to $94 per family.

NRF predicts that 56 percent of shoppers will be hunting for sales more than during last year’s b-t-s season, 42 percent will buy more generic brand products, and 40 percent will use coupons for their b-t-s purchases.

Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of NRF, credited the economy for the spending shifts, which will create a “difficult” b-t-s season for retailers. “As people focus primarily on price, strong promotions and deep discounts will ultimately win over back-to-school shoppers this year,” she said in a statement.

Electronics was the only category that NRF measured that could see a boost in spending during the b-t-s season, said Mullin, noting that the average family will spend $168 on electronics and computer equipment, up 11 percent from last year.

College spending will also rise this year, according to NRF’s survey, which forecasted a 3 percent uptick, to $618 per family, during this year’s b-t-s. College shoe spending, though, will remain flat, at $58 per family.

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