Are Tech Gadgets on Your Back-to-School Shopping List?

Source: Thinkstock

The standard list of school supplies is receiving a makeover for the digital age. Families across the nation are expected to increase their spending for the upcoming school year as demand for electronic items reaches its highest level in years.

According to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, electronics, and other school supplies. That represents a 5 percent gain from $634.78 last year. Every category will experience an increase in spending this year. Shoppers are expected to spend an average of $212.35 on electronic items, up 7 percent from a year earlier and the second largest expense behind clothes. Total spending on electronics is expected to reach $8.4 billion.

“Slow improvements in the economy may have contributed to the growth in confidence among back-to-school shoppers, and while we are encouraged by the overall tone of the results and expect to see continued improvement in consumer spending through the year, we know Americans are still grappling with their purchase decisions every day,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Throughout the history of this survey, spending has fluctuated based on family needs each year, and this summer, we expect parents to continue to use caution, but also make smart decisions for their family budget that is a good balance between what their children ‘want’ and what they actually need.”

Impressively, 27.5 percent of back-to-school shopping will take place at electronics stores, the highest amount in survey history. When shoppers are not in electronics stores, they are still using gadgets to assist their spending. The survey finds that 36.7 percent of smartphone owners shopping for school items will research products using their mobile devices, another survey high. In fact, one in five consumers will make a purchase via their smartphone.

College students and their families are the big spenders, as they plan to spend an average of $243.79 on laptops, desktop computers, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, and more, up 20 percent from last year and the highest amount since 2009.

“The ‘varsity’ class often gets overlooked each summer as back-to-school shoppers drive the news, but the truth is that today, college students and their parents contribute a significant amount to the economy,” said Shay. “Not immune to economic challenges, college students themselves and their parents will take great care when checking items off their lists. Retailers, hoping to get a head start on this extremely competitive shopping season, will attract these millennials with promotions through Instagram and other social channels, as well as through content that speaks to these tech-savvy, fashion-forward students.”

More From Tech Cheat Sheet:

Follow Eric on Twitter @Mr_Eric_WSCS

Want more great content like this? Sign up here to receive the best of Cheat Sheet delivered daily. No spam; just tailored content straight to your inbox.