Increase In College Enrollment Means Boost For Back-To-School Shopping Season


A study has found that an increase in college enrollment will give a big boost to retailers’ second-biggest shopping season.

Chain Store Age reports that the combination of back-to-school and back-to-college spending is projected to reach $83.6 billion this year, up more than 10 percent from last year’s $75.8 billion.

According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, college students and their families plan to spend an average of $969.88, an increase from last year’s $888.71, and total spending is expected to be $54.1 billion, up from $48.5 billion last year and surpassing 2012’s record of $53.5 billion.

The increase in spending is due, in part, to a boost in college enrollment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment has steadily increased over the last five years and is projected to reach nearly 21 million this fall.

As for what college students plan to spend their money on, $12.8 billion will be on electronics (purchased by 51 percent), with 61 percent planning to purchase a laptop, 28 percent a tablet, 26 percent an electronic accessory, 24 percent a calculator and 21 percent a smartphone/cellphone. One in four plan to purchase electronic accessories such as a mouse, flash drive or charger.

College consumers also plan to spend $8 billion on clothing, $7.5 billion on snacks and other food items, $5.9 billion on dorm/apartment furnishings, $4.5 billion on shoes, and $4.5 billion on personal care items. When parents are doing the shopping, the majority (57 percent) are going to department stores, while discount stores (54 percent) are a close second.

And back-to-school shopping is expected to start early this year. For college shoppers, 32 percent will start two months before school, up from 26 percent last year. And only 21 percent will leave shopping until the last week or two before school starts, down from 25 percent last year. Of those shopping early, 64 percent are trying to spread out their budgets, 41 percent don’t want to miss sales and 37 percent want to avoid crowds.


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