NRF: Apparel, Electronics Top Back-to-School Spending Categories

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A new study from the National Retail Federation found that families with school-aged children will spend more on back-to-school shopping this year than last year.

The average amount spent is predicted to be $527.08, up from $443.77 in 2005, according to NRF's 2006 Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by Bigresearch. Total spending is predicted to reach $17.6 billion, up from $13.4 billion last year.

While spending will jump in all categories, electronic and apparel purchases will fuel this year's growth.

Total spending on electronic and computer-related equipment like home computers, laptops, PDAs and calculators is estimated to increase by more than $1.5 billion this year. Apparel is also expected to jump from $205.31 last year to $228.14.

Other popular items that leave empty shelves this time of year are notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes.

The study also found that one in five parents with school-aged children have kids that are required to wear a uniform. These parents spend more on apparel and accessories than parents who do not buy uniforms, and are more likely to shop at department stores, specialty shops and through catalogs than those who don't.

As far as regions are concerned, consumers in the West are expecting to spend $479.45, up from 2005's $409.19. Spending in the South is also expected to rise from $434.09 in 2005 to $544.54 this year. Midwestern consumers cut back in 2005 to $404.68, but are expected to increase this year to $521.20.

The only region where consumers are expected to restrain spending is in the Northeast, where predictions for spending are estimated at $456.38, down from $521.10 in 2005.

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