Back-to-School Spending Could Hit Record Level as Parents Buy Tech for Home Schooling
Spending is predicted to hit a record this back-to-school season, as parents stock up on expensive technology like laptops, tablets and headphones, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey. Parents of kids in elementary through high school plan to spend an average $789.49 per family, topping a previous record of $696.70. The NRF polled 7,481 consumers from July 1 to July 8. Overall back-to-school spending is expected to hit $33.9 billion, up from $26.2 billion in 2019, and breaking a prior record of $30.3 billion in 2012, the survey said. Spending on college students, meantime, is expected to be $1,059.20 per family, which would top last year’s record of $976.78. Total back-to-college spending is forecast by NRF to amount to $67.7 billion, which would break the record set in 2018.
Total Retail's Take: Amidst all the uncertainty that surrounds this year's back-to-school season, this is certainly a bullish forecast from the NRF. However, there may be a sense of optimism from retailers about this back-to-school season, bolstered by June's retail sales report, released today, which revealed both a monthly increase and the first year-over-year gain since the beginning of 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that overall retail sales during June were up 7.5 percent seasonally adjusted from May and up 1.1 percent year-over-year.
Parents faced with another round of home schooling seem intent on equipping their children with the latest electronics and other devices to optimize the at-home learning experience, which is not an inexpensive proposition. However, not all are in agreement that this year's back-to-school season will produce the positive returns that the NRF is calling for.
"While I agree that more kids are going to need PCs to continue with remote learning, I think it's likely that the uptick in demand from those households that don’t have a PC will be offset by those households with one or more parents laid off or unemployed because of the pandemic, and I think the latter households will try to let the kids use existing equipment rather than buying new equipment," said Michael Pachter, managing director at Wedbush, in this MarketWatch article.