Back-to-School spending could hit all-time high in 2020

Digital Now

UNITED STATES — Back-to-School spending could see a record high for the upcoming year according to the results of a new survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) represents retailers of all sizes across all sectors of the industry, advocating for the policies, the people, and the stories that help retail thrive. 

Katherine Cullen is the Senior Director of Industry & Consumer Insights for the National Retail Federation.

“One of the things we do, around that, is we track how consumers are planning to shop around major events like Back-to-School shopping season,” Cullen said. “Which, as we saw in our data this year is expected to reach up to 100 billion dollars depending on how families end up shopping for the season.”

According to Cullen, many families who were surveyed in July, simply didn’t know what they needed.

“What we’re seeing now is parents planning for all possible scenarios. When we ran our survey, on average, consumers had only completed about 17 percent of their shopping, so they still had a lot left to do, but families were looking at what they might need and budgeting accordingly,” Cullen explained.

According to the NRF website, the total spending for K-12 and college combined is projected to reach $101.6 billion – exceeding last year’s $80.7 billion and topping the $100 billion mark for the first time.

The NRF saw a significant increase in electronics, Cullen added this year about 63 percent of Back-to-School families said they were planning to buy electronics, up from just about half last year. 

“We saw a little less interest in things like apple watches or smart watches or mobile phones. This is the time of year for a lot of middle schoolers might be getting that first phone but if they’re at home with their family they might be getting a laptop or a tablet instead to help with school,” Cullen said.

The NRF says the projected spending for this school year is the highest they’ve seen. But Cullen reminds people it is just a projection.

“We don’t know exactly how it’s going to play out as people get more information, but it was an indication where people’s minds are at, what they think they need, and what their expectations are for how their kids, or they if they’re in college, will be learning this year,” she said.

But unlike the sudden shutdowns in spring, summer break gave people a little more time to plan.

All of us hoping for the best possible outcome.

“We definitely see parents want to set their children up for success,” expressed Cullen.

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