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Back-to-School Spending this Year to Top $18 Billion

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Kathy Grannis or Scott Krugman (202) 783-7971
grannisk@nrf.com or krugmans@nrf.com

Back-to-School Spending this Year to Top $18 Billion
-Electronics, Shoes See Biggest Sales Increases; More Shoppers Head Online-

Washington, July 17, 2007 – Though the summer is still in full swing, families across the nation are already planning back-to-school shopping trips. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back-to-School survey, conducted by BIGresearch, families with school-age children are expected to spend $563.49 on back-to-school merchandise, up 6.9 percent from last year’s $527.08 average. Total back-to-school spending this year is expected to reach $18.4 billion.*  

According to the survey, the electronics category will see the biggest increase in sales this year, with families spending 13.0 percent more on electronics than last year ($129.24 vs. $114.38). Footwear will also see a higher-than-average sales increase, with sales expected to rise 10.3 percent over last year ($108.42 vs. $98.34). Families are also expected to spend $94.02 on school supplies, up from $86.22 a year ago. 

Though the majority of shoppers will be purchasing clothing and accessories this year (95.4%), spending in that category is expected to be flat, with consumers spending an average of $231.80 on those purchases, similar to last year’s $228.14. Clothing and accessories remains the largest spending category at $7.6 billion. 

“Electronics have evolved from luxuries to necessities, not only for college students but also for their younger siblings,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “While some students may be pleading with mom and dad for an iPod or a cell phone, parents are also investing in desktop or laptop computers, educational software and printers to support their children’s learning.”  

As the Internet continues to integrate itself into traditional shopping, more parents will head online for back-to-school items this year. The percentage of parents who plan to purchase merchandise online this year is expected to rise 40.8 percent, from 15.2 percent last year to 21.4 percent this year. Young parents between the ages of 18-34 are the most likely to shop online for children’s merchandise, with nearly one-third of them planning to use the web to find back-to-school items. 

Though discounters will remain the most popular destination for back-to-school shopping, fewer consumers plan to hit mass merchants this year, with 67.6 percent of parents planning to shop at discount stores compared with 72.2 percent last year. All other categories are expected to see traffic increase, as consumers will be shopping more at office supplies stores (41.4% vs. 35.8% last year), drug stores (17.9% vs. 16.3%), department stores (54.9% vs. 53.3%) and specialty stores (31.6% vs. 30.9%).  

Pre-teens and teenagers will be pulling out their own wallets for back-to-school this year. According to the survey, parents say pre-teens will chip in approximately $15.38 of their own money for back-to-school items while teenagers will spend, on average, $31.19 of their own money. And even if they’re not spending the most, they have quite a say in what is bought: nearly two-thirds of parents say their children influence at least half of the items that are purchased for back-to-school.  

“Pre-teens and teenagers have a tremendous impact on their family’s spending decisions,” said Phil Rist, Vice President of Strategy for BIGresearch. “From backpacks to boots, parents often let their children choose which specific items to purchase, so retailers will be marketing as much to kids as to their parents this year.”  

The timing of back-to-school shopping is expected to be consistent with previous years. The majority of consumers (45.2%) plan to begin their shopping three weeks to one month before school starts. Thirty-two percent will begin one to two weeks before, 14.6 percent will begin at least two months before the start of school and 5.4 percent will wait until the week before school begins. Only 2.7 percent will procrastinate until after school starts to do their shopping.  

About the Survey The NRF 2007 Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to back-to-school. The poll of 8,290 consumers was conducted from July 3-10, 2007. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes. BIGresearch's syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 7,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2006 sales of $4.7 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com


* Figure indicates total extrapolation of U.S adults 18+.