NRF: Back-to-School Shopping to Reach Record Levels in 2021
Consumers plan to spend record amounts for both school and college supplies as families and students plan to return to in-person classrooms this fall, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $848.90 on school items, which is $59 more than last year, according to the NRF. Total back-to-school spending is expected to reach a record $37.1 billion, up from $33.9 billion last year and an all-time high in the survey's history. College students and their families plan to spend an average of $1,200.32, an increase of $141 over last year. Over half ($80) of this increase is due to increased spending on electronics and dorm furnishings. Total back-to-college spending is expected to reach a record $71 billion, up from $67.7 billion in 2020.
About 43 percent of all shoppers said they will use government stimulus money to purchase items for school.
According to the survey, as of early July more than half (51 percent) of K-12 and college shoppers have begun shopping for the items they will need when classes resume later this year. However, the vast majority (76 percent) of K-12 shoppers were still waiting on lists for school supplies as of earlier this month.
Total Retail's Take: In other good news, the NRF said last week that retail sales saw solid growth during June, increasing in most categories on a monthly basis and across the board on a yearly basis as the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic continued. NRF’s calculation of retail sales — which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail — showed June was up 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted from May and up 12.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. That compared with a month-over-month decline of 1.9 percent and a year-over-year increase of 16.5 percent in May. The June increase beat economists’ expectations, but followed a larger than previously estimated decline in May. Spending slowed in late spring after surging earlier in the year. June’s increase marked a pickup in spending activity.