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My MBA Career: Preparing for Back to School 2023 with Potential Record-Breaking Spending



Last Updated on July 30, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes

Back-to-School Shopping Season Predicted to Break Spending Records

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has projected that this year’s back-to-school shopping season could be the most expensive ever, with spending expected to surpass a staggering $135 billion. This would be an increase of $24 billion compared to 2022. However, not all estimates are as optimistic. Consulting firm Deloitte believes that total spending for families with K-12 students could decline by 10%.

Multiple factors contribute to the complexity of projections for back-to-school spending. Inflation, consumer resilience, and students’ increased need for items all play a role in determining the eventual figures. The combination of higher prices and longer shopping lists has caused many parents to exercise caution in their spending and be more mindful of where they shop.

Amidst these shifting trends, the NRF predicts that back-to-school spending will prioritize experiences and savings accounts, potentially impacting sales on goods. Deloitte estimates that the average spending per child will decrease to $597 this year, compared to $661 in 2022. On the other hand, the NRF estimates that families will spend an average of $890.07 on elementary through high school children. For families with college students, the anticipated expenditure per person stands at $1,366.95, which is over $167 more than last year.

When it comes to shopping categories, clothing and shoes top the list for back-to-school shoppers. Approximately 95% of shoppers are in the market for clothing, while 94% are specifically looking for shoes. Electronics also hold significant importance, with 69% of shoppers planning to purchase these items.

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As families adjust to potentially higher expenses, discount shopping has become an integral part of their back-to-school strategy. More than one-third of shoppers plan to visit discount stores to find affordable deals. Additionally, consumers are increasingly engaging in comparative online shopping, seeking out more sales, and opting for store brand and generic items.

Interestingly, Deloitte’s survey suggests that nearly 60% of parents are willing to spend more than planned for the right reasons, demonstrating their dedication to providing the best resources for their children’s education.

The backdrop for this back-to-school shopping season is one of uncertainty in the retail industry, with consumer spending experiencing only modest growth in recent times. However, research firm Insider Intelligence forecasts a 2.9% increase in back-to-school retail sales this year, amounting to approximately $72 billion.

As the back-to-school season approaches, parents and students alike find themselves navigating fluctuating economic conditions and evolving shopping preferences. Only time will tell if this year’s spending will truly break records, but one thing is for certain: back-to-school shopping is set to make a significant impact on both retailers and consumers.

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