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Mixed Forecasts For Back-To-School Shopping

Back-to-school buying of apparel in the US is expected to decline by 11.9 percent to $26.7 billion this year, compared to last year’s estimated $30.3 billion in sales, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The anticipated fall off in sales may be attributable to a struggling US economy and an increase in taxes, say some experts.

Others predict value-conscious consumers will most likely seek out the best bargains offered by retailers and online vendors and cut expenses elsewhere in their budgets to buy clothing and footwear for their children.

Some 80.5% of consumers surveyed said their spending will change in some way because of the economy.

“The good news is that consumers are spending, but they are doing so with cost and practicality in mind,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO.

“Having splurged on their growing children’s needs last year, parents will ask their kids to reuse what they can for the upcoming school season,” Shay said.

As for what back-to-school consumers will be buying, the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics survey disclosed the following:

The major slice of the back-to-school budget will be spent on new apparel and accessories.  More than 95 percent of respondents will spend an average of $230.85 on sweaters, denim and other apparel, $114.39 on shoes and $90.49 on supplies.

This year the preferred places for shopping for back-to-school wear will be department stores and online outlets, with an increase of 4 percent in consumer numbers.  An estimated 3 percent increase in sales is forecast for apparel specialty stores, with a 4 to 8 percent drop in consumer numbers for national chains and mass merchants.

Despite forecasts of declining spending, the quarterly Global Retail Manufacturers and Importers Survey reflected optimism among more than half of the respondents who were confident that the back-to-school-autumn retail season will be better than last year.