U.S. back-to-school spending to fall this year: survey

Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:12am EDT
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By Nicole Maestri

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Parents plan to spend less money on back-to-school gear for their children this year, according to a survey released on Tuesday, a worrisome sign for retailers heading into what should be their second busiest selling period of the year behind Christmas.

The average family with children in kindergarten through 12th grade is expected to spend $548.72 on back-to-school merchandise this year, down 7.7 percent from 2008, according to the National Retail Federation's 2009 back-to-school survey.

College students and their parents will spend an average of $618.12 this year, up 3 percent from last year, as they purchase costly electronics or dorm room decorations.

But with fewer people planning to attend college this fall, the NRF said total college spending is expected to decline 4 percent to $30.08 billion.

"The economy has clearly changed the spending habits of American families, which will likely create a difficult back-to-school season for retailers," said Tracy Mullin, President and CEO of NRF, in a statement.

"As people focus primarily on price, strong promotions and deep discounts will ultimately win over back-to-school shoppers this year."


Retailers have watched their sales sink this year as consumers avoid all but the most essential of purchases.   Continued...

<p>A couple of young boys arrive back at school at Santana High School in Santee, California on March 7, 2001. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>