Back-to-school sales to hit new record as shoppers keep up with essential buys – NRF

Jul 13, 2023

(Reuters) – U.S. shoppers plan to spend a record $41.5 billion during the upcoming school year, a trade group forecast on Thursday, as families accommodate an inflation-driven rise in the prices of back-to-school items, particularly electronics.

The survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts consumers will spend 12.5% more during one of the key shopping periods for U.S. retailers, compared to $36.9 billion last year.

Families with children in kindergarten through Grade 12 plan to spend $25 more per child this year, and $890.07 on average, as they pull back on other discretionary spending to cover back-to-school expenses, according to the NRF.

Consumers were likely to shell out more on laptops and tablets, with the survey forecasting demand for electronics to be the highest on record.

Meanwhile, college spending is expected to total $94 billion, up from $74 billion last year, with spending on average likely to go up to about $1,367 per person, from last year’s $1,199.

The forecast bodes well for the U.S. retail industry and is at variance with a Deloitte forecast on Wednesday, which showed back-to-school spending was set to decline for the first time in nine years due to shoppers’ resilience to higher prices waning under sticky inflation.

Americans are likely to shop more at discount stores than last year, the survey said, as consumers have grown choosier about where to splurge and are comparing prices.

Customers are also hunting for deals at sales events like this week’s Amazon’s ‘Prime Day’, to buy goods at deeper discounts.

The NRF forecast is based on a survey sample of 7,843 consumers between June 30 and July 6, of which 42% self-identified as back-to-school or college shoppers.

(Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)


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