With school starting in just a month, parents and their kids are beginning to shop for those supplies, clothes, and other gear needed to make it through the upcoming year. The back-to-school shopping season is the second-busiest for retailers after Christmas, and the National Retail Federation, one of the bigger groups representing the industry, expects this year to be a banner year. Spending, according to the NRF, for combined K-12 and college, is expected to reach a record $83.8 billion.
The growth may be due, in part, to record levels of elementary and middle school enrollment, as about 3 in 10 Americans say they have children between the ages of 6 and 17.
But the bigger boost in spending may actually be from online shoppers, who are expected to spend 27 percent more than those who hit the actual physical stores. Internet shoppers are forecast to spend an average $874 for back-to-school supplies, compared with $688 for those in stores, according to an NRF survey, which polled more than 8,500 consumers.
Growth in online shopping has been steadily rising over the past decade. This year, more than 40 percent of shoppers plan to buy at least one item on the Internet, up from almost 11 percent in 2003, the NRF said. Many consumers see online shopping as a way to both shop smarter and stretch their budgets as they surf the Internet to compare products, prices and deals, according to TechBargains.com, a deal aggregation website for electronic products.
The increased use of mobile devices over the past few years also may be accelerating the online shopping trend. Smartphones and tablets make it easy for people to redeem coupons and hunt for deals, no matter where they are.
Among categories of products, parents expect to spend the least amount on pencils, notebooks and other traditional back-to-school supplies. Instead, electronics and computer-related equipment will top the list, followed by clothing and shoes, according to the NRF survey.
Don’t forget! This weekend is a great way to stretch those back-to-school dollars even more with the annual sales tax holiday. The tax exemption eliminates the 6.25 percent tax for most purchases under $2,500.
The author is solely responsible for the content.