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Clothing to top US back-to-school spend



As students gear up to go back to school and college, US families plan to spend a record amount on supplies – with clothing and accessories set to top expenses this year.

According to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights and Analytics, families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average US$696.70. That's up from $684.79 last year and tops the previous record of $687.72 set in 2017.

However, with fewer families surveyed saying they have children in grades K-12, spending is expected to total $26.2bn, down from last year's $27.5bn despite the increase in per-household spending.

Clothing and accessories are expected to top the list of K-12 families' expenses at an average of $239.82, followed by electronics such as computers, calculators and phones ($203.44); shoes ($135.96) and supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunch boxes ($117.49).

"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," says NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.

K-12 families plan to do most of their shopping at department stores (53%), discount stores (50%), online (49%), clothing stores (45%) and office supply stores (31%).

Meanwhile, among K-12 shoppers, teens are expected to spend an average $36.71 of their own money, up from $30.88 ten years ago, while pre-teens should spend $26.40, up from $11.94 10 years ago. "Members of Generation Z are clearly becoming more involved with back-to-school purchasing decisions rather than leaving the choices up to mom and dad," Shay adds. "Over the years, both teens and pre-teens are spending more of their own money on back-to-school items."

The survey found 89% of both K-12 and college shoppers still had half or more of their purchases left to complete. Of those, 49% were waiting for the best deals for items on their lists.

"Back-to-class shoppers still have the bulk of their shopping to do and are waiting to see what the best deals and promotions will be at a variety of different retailers," says Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy at Prosper Insights. The survey of 7,660 consumers was conducted from 1-8 July and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.



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