Consumer spending is expected to reach nearly $26.2 billion, or $696.70 per household, on K-12 back-to-school items in 2019. The total household spend is up from 2018's reported $684.70, while spending a year ago was higher — $27.5 billion total — due to more families with children in grades K-12, according to National Retail Federation's 2019 survey. Average consumer spend for college-related items is also projected to increase this year. Back-to-school college spending in 2019 is expected to rise to $54.5 billion, or $976.78 per household, the NRF report also found.
K-12 families expect to spend an average of $239.82 on clothing and accessories, $203.44 on electronics and $135.96 on shoes. Fifty-three percent of shoppers said they plan to do most of their shopping at department stores, 50% will shop at discount stores and 49% said they plan to shop online, the survey found.
College shoppers plan to spend about $234.69 on electronics, $148.54 on clothing and accessories, and $120.19 on dorm and apartment furnishings. Differing from the K-12 crowd, 45% of college shoppers anticipate spending most of their time shopping for supplies online, while only 39% of college shoppers plan to shop in department stores and 36% said they are going to shop in discount stores, according to the survey findings.
The findings suggesting many back-to-school shoppers are shopping online should come as no surprise. A Deloitte report released this month also indicated that mobile shopping among back-to-school shoppers is expected to grow to 60%, up from 53% in 2018. That report also noted that the share of shoppers using a personal computer to shop for back-to-school goods is expected to drop from 42% this year, down from 49% in 2018. The shift to online shopping could explain why online retailers like Amazon are catering to back-to-school shoppers online.
But just because online shopping is gaining ground doesn't mean brick-and-mortar stores are out of favor with families. Overall, more than half of American shoppers say they shop online and offline equally and prefer to do so for items like clothing and home furnishings, both of which are targets for back-to-school shoppers' lists.
Though they may not have as much money to contribute to back-to-school spending as their parents, research from the NRF report suggests that back-to-school shopping can be a way for retailers to win over Gen Z consumers. Among the K-12 shoppers, teens anticipated spending $36.71 of their own money, which is an increase from $30.88 10 years ago, and pre-teens said they plan to spend $26.40, an increase from $11.94 a decade 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," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. "Over the years, both teens and pre-teens are spending more of their own money on back-to-school items."