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Back To School Spending Is On The Rise

(SPM Wire) Shopping for school wasn't this expensive when we were kids.

Families with school-age children are expected to spend $563.49 on back-to-school merchandise this year, up 6.9 percent from last year's $527.08 average, according to new research.

According to the National Retail Federation's 2007 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back-to-School survey, total back-to-school spending this year is expected to reach a whopping $18.4 billion.

Blame all those computers, cell phones and iPods. According to the survey, the electronics category will see the biggest increase in sales this year, with families spending 13.0 percent more on electronics than last year ($129.24 vs. $114.38).

"Electronics have evolved from luxuries to necessities, not only for college students but also for their younger siblings," said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. "While some students may be pleading with mom and dad for an iPod or a cell phone, parents are also investing in desktop or laptop computers, educational software and printers to support their children's learning."

Sneakers and shoes also aren't coming cheap for kids these days. Footwear will see a higher-than-average sales increase, with sales expected to rise 10.3 percent over last year ($108.42 vs. $98.34).

For their part, good old fashioned school supplies - think pens, paper and protractors - similarly are commanding more of families' heard-earned cash. The typical family is expected to spend $94.02 on school supplies, up from $86.22 a year ago.

And where families do all this spending also is changing. As the Internet continues to integrate itself into traditional shopping, more parents will head online for back-to-school items this year. The percentage of parents who plan to purchase merchandise online this year is expected to rise 40.8 percent, from 15.2 percent last year to 21.4 percent this year. Young parents between the ages of 18-34 are the most likely to shop online for children's merchandise, with nearly one-third of them planning to use the Web to find back-to-school items.

The good news for many parents is that pre-teens and teenagers will be pulling out their own wallets for back-to-school spending this year. According to the survey, parents say pre-teens will chip in approximately $15.38 of their own money for back-to-school items, while teenagers will spend, on average, $31.19 of their own money.

Of course, even if they're not spending the most, they have quite a say in what is bought: nearly two-thirds of parents say their children influence at least half of the items that are purchased for back-to-school.

"Pre-teens and teenagers have a tremendous impact on their family's spending decisions," said Phil Rist, Vice President of Strategy for BIGresearch, the company which conducted this year's survey for the NRF. "From backpacks to boots, parents often let their children choose which specific items to purchase, so retailers will be marketing as much to kids as to their parents this year."







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