Survey: Families to spend $26.5 billion for school shopping

(WPRI) — Late July might seem a little early to start thinking about the upcoming school year – but it’s in your best interest to get a jump on your family’s back-to-school shopping.

If your kids’ school hasn’t sent a list of items they’ll need this year, don’t hesitate to call and ask. The faster you get that information – the longer you’ll have to look for deals.

Retailers estimate families with grade-school children will spend an average of more than $669 on back-to-school expenses this year – coming to a total of $26.5 billion, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation.

Spending per household is up 5% over one year ago, and as school districts ask families to provide more of their own supplies, spending on those items has climbed 12%.

The largest chunk of back-to-school money will be spent on electronics – more than $212 on average.

The survey showed most consumers will start shopping early, with two-thirds saying they’ll start at least three weeks ahead of the first day of school, and some as much as two months before.

When asked how the overall state of the U.S. economy will impact their shopping plans, almost half said they’ll look for sales more often. Others will do more comparative shopping, either online or with print circulars, and about 25% will look to make do with items from last school year.

In many families, students will chip in for their own back-to-school purchases. Teenagers will kick in an estimated $913 million of their own cash, while tweens will $544 million to the overall back-to-school haul.

If you can hold out on buying some of the pricier items – wait until mid-to-late September when back-to-school shopping is over.

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