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U.S. Consumers Expect to Spend About $285 on Back-to-School Items

NEW YORK – The back-to-school shopping season has already gotten underway with 29% of households reporting that they have begun to shop, according to a special ICSC-Goldman Sachs consumer tracking survey. While the percentage of consumers shopping for back-to-school items at this time of the season is lower than in 2012 (33%), it is still higher than in all other years since 2004. Although the season has officially begun, two-thirds of households reported that August is when they will do most of their back-to-school shopping.

The average household expenditure on all types of back-to-school items is expected to be about $285 this year, which is an increase over last year for 39% of those surveyed. Forty-five percent plan to spend the same amount as last year, while only 17% indicated they would spend less. Of the 42% of consumers that plan to increase spending, nearly three-fifths indicated that the bulk of their shopping will be to replace wardrobes and school supplies.

“Consumers typically view back-to-school merchandise as essential expenditure, which is likely a key reason that so many consumers plan to increase spending this year,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC vice president of research and chief economist. “However, this year consumers plan to do considerably more of that shopping at discount stores (90% vs. 83% in 2012) than anywhere else followed by office supply (44%) and traditional department stores (41%).”

Not surprisingly, and consistent with previous surveys, the number one item that consumers need for the coming school year is school supplies (89%), followed by apparel (79%).

The ICSC-Goldman Sachs consumer tracking survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation between July 12 and July 15, 2013.

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