Posted July 22, 2011 2:16 pm by with 0 comments

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Back-to-school is the second largest seasonal shopping event, but this year it’s barely holding its own. New numbers from the National Retail Federation show a very slight dip in the expected spend. This year’s average spend for families with kids in grades K-12 is $603.63. Last year, the figure was 606.40 and that includes apparel, school supplies and electronics.

That still adds up to $22.8 billion in sales for the lower grades alone. When you add in college buying, the number climbs to $68.8 billion.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says,

“Families aren’t opposed to spending on what they need, but parents want their children to take a good look around at what they already have before deciding what to buy for back to school this year.”

Here are a few other ways the economy is impacting buying:

Where will folks be spending their money? 68.4% said they’ll be shopping at a discount store and 57% said they’ll be doing most of their shopping at a department store. For specific items, clothing stores will get 48.7% of the shoppers, while 38% head to the office supply store and 21.7% to the electronics store.

Online shopping is up slightly 31.7% vs. 30.8% last year, as is drug store shopping.

School may be more than a month away but 42.4% of savvy shoppers are already filling up the backpacks with supplies. Shopping early allows them to be take advantage of deep price cuts and online buying.

If you’re still putting together your back-to-school campaign, consider this;

When it comes to how much say children have in parents’ buying decisions, nearly two-thirds of parents (61.2%) say their children influence 50 percent or more of back-to-school purchases.

So mom may want the best deal, but it’s the kids who are going to choose the style, color and logo for back-to-school.

Want to learn more? You can download the full back-to-school shopping survey at the NRF website.