Despite higher prices for back-to-school needs, students and parents will spend nearly 8% less this season than in 2012, according to a survey out Thursday from the National Retail Federation.
Parents will save by shopping earlier for sales, shopping online and by having children re-use items bought in last year’s booming back-to-school season, the NRF says.
Average back-to-school spending will be $635, down from last year’s average of $689, the NRF says. Back-to-college spending also will shrink this year, the NRF says, to an average of $837 for supplies — including apparel, electronics and dorm furnishings — down from $907 last year. It estimates total U.S. spending will be $26.7 billion
The back-to-school drop comes despite a 7.3% increase in the cost of school supplies, fees and activities estimated by Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington Bank’s annual “Backpack Index,” also out Thursday.
Belinda Sherman, president of the bank’s Huntington Investment Company, says increasing prices offer parents a chance to “teach their children how to buy on a budget and stick to a budget in one day-in-the-life example.”
The cost of back-to-school shopping could increase 36% from last year if students add a midprice $300 tablet to purchases, according to the Backpack Index. “We are seeing the trend of tablet-buying become more synonymous with the back-to-school season than ever before,” says NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis.
While tablets are popular, Huntington suggests that before buying one, parents should research the rules for tablets at their child’s school.
“Then there’s also the fact that technology does change every few years, and parents have to re-invest for new technology for their children,” says Grannis.
For college shoppers’ budgets, electronics is the biggest slice, according to the NRF survey. There, too, tablets are a big contributor. A new study from educational services company CourseSmart found 35% of college students now own a tablet, up from 7% in its 2011 survey.
Although they can be expensive, mobile devices such as tablets offer a functionality that is key for college students, says CourseSmart’s Cindy Clarke. “Mobile devices are so core to a student’s life that they probably prioritize that purchase, or it’s very high on their Christmas list,” she said, adding that she believes the popularity of tablets on campuses will continue to grow.
Tablet pressure notwithstanding, Grannis says the 2013 school and college season is different, because parents are shopping with “cost and practicality in mind after having spent significantly more on their growing children’s needs last year.”
Source: USA Today