Families to spend $76B on back to school

Back-to-school spending is expected to jump significantly to $75.8 billion, up from $68 billion last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The increase is largely due to families entering a "stock up" cycle compared to the "make do" mentality of the recent past, noted the NRF's annual survey by Prosper Insights and Analytics.

"Families are still looking for bargains, but there are signs that they are less worried about the economy than in the past," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. "We fully expect retailers to be aggressive with offering great deals both in stores and online for back-to-school shoppers. And retailers will keep a close eye on inventory levels as families spread out their shopping throughout the summer."

Families with kids in grades K-12 will plan to spend 9.6 percent more than last year. Slightly more will be shopping sales and comparing prices online, but the number who say they will be spending less overall dropped to 23 percent from 27 percent last year.

The numbers follow a pattern in which spending often increases one year as families stock up on supplies only to drop off the next as they get a second year out of longer-lasting items like backpacks or computers, the report noted. Spending then increases in the third year once children outgrow clothing or items need to be replaced.

More families are shopping earlier, and fewer are waiting until the last minute. Survey respondents said they were taking advantage of early sales and many wanted to spread out their budgets over a longer period.

Back-to-college shoppers will be spending roughly the same or less this year, however.

This largely profitable BTS bolsters more positive, big-picture projections for the rest of 2016. Said Shay, "Heading into the second half of the year, we are optimistic that overall economic growth and consumer spending will continue to improve as they did in the first two quarters of the year."

For more:
- see this NRF press release

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