Merchants Hope for Back-to-School Rebound

Jul 15, 2010 10:30 AM  By

The average U.S. family is expected to spend 10.5% more during the 2010 back-to-school shopping season than they did last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2010 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back to School survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

The families surveyed will spend on average $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics this year. Not only is that an improvement over the $548.72 they spent last year, NRF says, it also beats the $594.24 respondents spent in 2008.

The poll of 9009 consumers was conducted from June 30 to July 7.

Total spending on school-aged children through high school is expected to reach $21.35 billion. Combined with college, spending will reach $55.12 billion, according to the study.

Families will look to get more for less: 44.3% of Americans will buy more store brand or generic products, compared to 41.7% last year. And parents will comparative shop online – 30.3% vs. 26.4% in 2009.

Spending on apparel will take up the majority of consumers’ budgets with the average family of school-aged kids expected to spend $225.47 on clothing. Families will also spend an average of $102.93 on shoes, $181.60 on their children’s electronic or computer-related school needs and $96.39 on school supplies.

Have retailers done their homework on what students want? Here’s a sampling of what some merchants are doing to bring in back-to-school shoppers:

  • In addition to selling “Glee”-branded tees and hoodies, Macy’s plans to launch a microsite for teens at macys.com/mstylelab.com on Aug. 12. The social site will host fashion videos with the latest trends, “word on the street” content featuring Seventeen Magazine editor-in-chief Anne Shoket, as well as a “post your pics” section that enables users to post images of themselves to see what’s fashionable across the country.
  • American Eagle Outfitters will give a free smartphone after instant discount with a new two-year service plan to every customer who tries on a pair of AE jeans from July 21 to Aug. 3. Customers can choose from more than 40 phones including BlackBerry and Android smartphones, which will come preloaded with an app to drive the user to the AE mobile site.
  • Target will add a “College” tab on its Facebook page to give students access to coupons, college checklists and a Roommates by Target application. The app allows students to set up a roommate group so they can plan shopping lists, instant message, manage bills and divide chores with roommates and more.