Clothing, Electronics Will Win Record Back-to-School Shopping Dollars

Families with elementary and high school aged children are expected to spend at record levels this back-to-school season — about $850 per child — a new survey said.

The National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics said Monday that back-to-school spending is expected to reach $37.1 billion, compared with $33.9 billion last year. Per child, spending will increase of 7.5% year over year, the survey said.

About 43% of all shoppers said they will use money from government stimulus to purchase items for school.

“The pandemic forced parents and their school-aged children to quickly adapt to virtual learning, and they did it with an incredible amount of resolve and flexibility,” Matthew Shay NRF president and CEO, said in a statement. “We enter the new school year with plans to return to the classroom and retailers are prepared to help Americans find and purchase whatever they need to make this transition as seamless as possible.”

The survey found that shoppers plan to spend $161.04 on shoes, up from $149.20 last year, and $253.46 on clothing, versus $234.48 a year ago. Shopping online and at department stores are the two leading destinations.

For college-age children, families are expected to spend $1,200.32 on average, up $141 from last year. The expectation for total back-to-college spending of $71 billion, which would be another record, is up from $67.7 billion in 2020, the survey found.

In terms of timing for shopping, those surveyed said they completed just 18% of back-to-class purchases by early July.

“For those in particular with children in elementary to high school, shoppers are putting the largest portion of their budgets toward electronics, new clothes and accessories,” Phil Rist, Prosper Insights EVP of strategy, said in the statement.

The two firms surveyed 7,704 consumers from July 1 to July 8.

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