The back-to-school season is just around the corner, and this year parents will be trimming their spending and evaluating what their children actually need before making purchases, according to a new survey.

School Supplies
Sean Locke ThinkStock

The National Retail Federation's (NRF) Back-to-School Spending Survey found that the average family with children in grades K through 12 will spend an average of $630.36, down from $669.28 last year.

College shoppers are expected to spend an average of $899, down slightly from $916.48 last year. Total spending for K through 12 and college is expected to reach $68 billion. 

"When it comes to back-to-school and back-to-college shopping, there is a predictability with how spending will turn out year after year. If parents spend one summer stocking up on electronics and supplies, it's a little more likely that they'll cut back the next year as their children already have several items that they can reuse for that school season and we think that's what we're seeing this year," said Kathy Allen, spokesperson with the NRF.

According to the survey, 94 percent of parents who are shopping for elementary, middle and high school items will spend about $98 on average on school supplies.

"Parents will continue to look for shoes and clothing. There is also a very large market for electronics when it comes to back-to-school shopping and making sure that their child has access to a new family computer or a working smartphone or even a tablet to help them with their homework at night," Allen said.

More families with children in grades K through 12 are also opting to wait before rushing to shop.

"Those looking for low prices who are looking to stick to a budget know that some of the lowest prices come at the end of the season. So, this year, families may head out closer to the start of the school season because they don't have a specific need for a very specific item that they know they'd have to buy in July when items are first being rolled out," Allen said.

Interestingly enough, the survey also found that some preteens and teenagers want to contribute their own money for back-to-school items. Whether it is a specific outfit or decorations for their locker, some students are using money they have earned on their own over the summer to buy it.


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