Total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $80.7 billion, down from $82.7 billion last year, according to The National Retail Federation’s annual survey.
The survey, which included families with children in K-12 and college, found a decreased number of households with children in elementary and high school. The average household spend is expected to hit $696.70, up from $684.79 last year and ahead of the previous record of $688.62 in 2012.
“Consumers are in a strong position given the nation’s growing economy, and we see this reflected in what they say they will spend on back-to-class items this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
Since fewer families have children in K-12, spending is expected to total $26.2 billion, down from last year’s $27.5 billion, despite the increase in per-household spending. Similarly, fewer report having children attending college, dropping total spending from $55.3 billion last year to $54.5 billion this year.
The average per-family spend on college students is projected at $976.78, up from last year’s $942.17 and ahead of the previous record of $969.88 in 2017.
Clothing and accessories are the top K-12 spending category, projected at an average of $239.82 this year, followed by electronics ($203.44), shoes ($135.96) and supplies ($117.49).
Most families plan to do their shopping at department stores (53%), discount stores (50%) online (49%), clothing stores (45%) and office supply stores (31%).
College shoppers plan to spend the most on electronics at an average of $234.69, followed by clothing and accessories ($148.54), dorm and apartment furnishings ($120.19) and food items ($98.72). They plan to do most of their shopping online (45%) followed by department stores (39%), discount stores (36%), college bookstores (32%) and office supply stores (29%).
For online purchases, 90% of families with K-12 students and 85% of those with college students plan to take advantage of free shipping offers whenever possible.