Spending on school supplies is expected to hit $75.8 billion – an increase of more than 11 percent over last year’s figures – and an indication of increased confidence in the economy.
The prediction comes from the National Retail Foundation in its Back-to-School and Back-to-College surveys, conducted since 2003 to come up with a detailed look at how much American families will spend on clothing, supplies and other items for the upcoming school year.
The survey is divided between families with kids in grades K-12 and those with college students. A closer look at the figures shows that spending for K-12 supplies – $27.3 billion – is an increase of nearly 10 percent from last year’s total. The average family plans to spend $673.57 on clothes, electronics, shoes and school supplies – up from $630.36 per family last year.
The K-12 spending is the highest since 2012.
The college spending figures are up as well, from $43.1 billion last year to an expected $48.5 billion this year – an increase of nearly 13 percent.
While families are still budget conscious, there are a number of indications within the survey that there is increased confidence in the economy overall.
Among families shopping for K-12 supplies, 27 percent say the economy will have no impact on their school spending plans. That’s the highest level in the history of the survey. A total of 30 percent of families shopping for college supplies said the economy won’t affect their shopping plans – also an all-time high in the survey’s history.
Additionally, fewer shoppers said they plan to spend less this year than the year before.
Clothing makes up the biggest chunk of spending for K-12 consumers – $9.54 billion. Electronics – computers or calculators – took the second spot with anticipated spending of $8.27 billion with shoes coming in at No. 3, at $5.12 billion. The top area of spending for college consumers is electronics – at $11.54 billion – with clothing coming in second at $7.49 billion and dorm furnishings as the third costliest spending area at $6.23 billion.
Discount stores continue to attract the most consumers – both for K-12 and college students. The figure was 44 percent of college shoppers and 61 percent of K-12 shoppers, but both figures were the lowest ever seen in the 13-year history of the survey.
The survey of 6,809 consumers from June 30 to July 6 was conducted for the National Retail Foundation by Prosper Insights and Analytics. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.
School and college spending is the No. 2 spending event during the year in the country, second only to the winter holidays.