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Inflation Impacting Back-to-School And College Spending


In what could actually be viewed as a be a bit of positive news for team dealers and sporting goods retailers that sell back-to-school products, the annual survey recently released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics found that one-third of consumers (38 percent) are cutting back on spending in other areas to cover the cost of items for the upcoming school year and they expect to spend more per person on K-12 and college supplies this year.

“Families consider back-to-school and college items as an essential category and they are taking whatever steps they can, including cutting back on discretionary spending, shopping sales and buying store or off-brand items to purchase what they need for the upcoming school year,” explains NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. 

Among the other NRF findings:

• Total back-to-school spending is expected to match 2021 record high levels of $37 billion.

• Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on school supplies, approximately $15 more than 2021.

• Compared to 2019, consumers shopping for back-to-school are expected to spend $168 more on average, and total spending will be up $11 billion.

• Total back-to-college spending could reach nearly $74 billion, up from last year’s record of $71 billion. The highest in the survey’s history.

• More college students and their families plan to shop this year compared to 2021 and anticipate spending an average of $1199 on college or university supplies, consistent with last year’s $1200. Since 2019, total expected spending on back-to-college has grown by $19 billion and consumers are spending $223 more on average than they were before the pandemic. Nearly half of the increase comes from spending on electronics and dorm or apartment furnishings.

• Consumers are starting early to find the best deals and help spread their budgets. As of early July, more than half, 56 percent, of consumers had started shopping for school and college necessities.

• Compared with pre-pandemic habits, back-to-school and college shoppers plan to concentrate their shopping rather than spreading it out across multiple destinations. The Top Five BTS shopping destinations are online (50 percent), department stores (45 percent), discount retailers (40 percent), clothing stores (37 percent) and electronics stores (28 percent). The top back-to-college shopping destinations are online (43 percent), followed by department stores (36 percent), discount stores (29 percent), office supply stores (27 percent) and college bookstores (26 percent).

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