Back-to-School Spending Forecast to Increase


As of Thursday, July 13, 2017

Retailers might give the 2017 Back-to-School season an “A.”

Total spending for Back-to-School and related Back-to-College spending is projected to reach $83.6 billion, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation on July 13. The Washington, D.C.–based retail trade group noted that 2017 forecasts are 10 percent higher than the 2016 Back-to-School season, when consumers spent $75.8 billion.

Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and chief executive officer, credited a solid economy for the season’s forecasted gains.

“With stronger employment levels and a continued increase in wages, consumers are spending more and we are optimistic that they will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year,” Shay said in a prepared statement.

According to the survey, each family with children enrolled from kindergarten to high school will spend an average of $687.72. The Back-to-School shoppers are forecast to spend $10.2 billion on clothing, $8.8 billion on electronics, $5.6 billion on shoes and $4.9 billion on school supplies.

The survey gave a breakdown on where consumers will spend Back-to-School dollars. It found that 57 percent will shop at department stores, 54 percent at discount stores, and 46 percent each at clothing stores and online.

Back-to-College spending is forecast to increase because there are more college students attending this year than there were in the past. College enrollment has steadily increased over the past five years, with nearly 21 million people projected to attend a U.S. college this year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

College kids and their families are forecast to spend a total of $54.1 billion in the 2017 Back-to-College season, or an average of $969.88. The 2017 total spending is greater than $48.5 billion spent in 2016’s Back-to-College season.

The Back-to-School season will do well despite a retail market that is rapidly changing, Shay said. During a July 13 conference call, a reporter asked him to comment on how NRF’s forecast meshes with recent reports about retail closures, Shay answered that store closures only tell one part of the economy’s story. Entrepreneurs are also opening stores, Shay said.