Though it is only mid-July, the back-to-school preparations in retail are already underway – and the National Retail Federation (NRF) has released its 2018 predictions.
On the whole, 2018 is expected to generate slightly less revenue than the 2017 season, according to the annual NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics survey. All in, spending this year is expected to hit $82.8 billion, a shade under last year's take of $83.6 billion.
“With the economy thriving thanks to tax reform and growing consumer confidence, we expect to see a very strong season,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “College spending is expected to be at its highest level ever, and back-to-school will be one of the three highest years on record.”
Spending shift depending on the ages of the kids involved in the great trek back to education this fall. Elementary school parents can count on spending $684.79 each, down from last year's $687.72, for a total of $27.5 billion. While it is down from last year, it is the third highest back-to-school take in history, following the peak year of 2012 (when elementary parents spent a collective $30.3 billion).
College spending is slightly down as well – college and graduate students are expected to spend $942.17 each, down from last year’s $969.88 for a total of $55.3 billion.
“The biggest change we are seeing in back-to-school spending this year is coming from electronics,” said Mark Mathews, vice president of research for NRF. “Items like laptops, tablets and smartphones are now an everyday part of household life, and aren’t necessarily a purchase parents save for the start of the school year, resulting in the slight decrease in spending for this category.”
Electronics, accessories and clothing are also expected to be big spending areas for college students, as are apartment or dorm furnishings.
“College shoppers are prioritizing and increasing their spending budgets in essential categories, including clothing, furnishings and shoes,” Mathews said.