Total spending for K-12 and college is expected to reach $83.6 billion, up from last year’s $75.8 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual back-to-school spending survey, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. Here’s how the spending breaks down: Families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average of $687.72 each, for a total of $29.5 billion. College students and their families plan to spend an average of $969.88, up from last year’s $888.71. “Families are now in a state of mind where they feel a lot more confident about the economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a company press release. “With stronger employment levels and a continued increase in wages, consumers are spending more and we're optimistic that they will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year.”
Total Retail’s Take: According to the NRF, it appears that families are planning to take a “stock up” approach rather than a “make do” approach when it comes to back-to-school shopping this year. This is welcome news for the retail industry, which has been hammered by decreasing foot traffic as shoppers buy online, especially from Amazon.com. The retail industry should also be prepared for this influx in spending taking place sooner rather than later: The NRF said 27 percent of families surveyed will shop for back-to-school items two months before the beginning of school, up from 22 percent last year. To be safe, retailers need to make sure their websites are running smoothly, their inventories are up-to-date and their marketing programs are ready to go.