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NRF: Back-to-school And College Spending Could Top $100 Bln This Year

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Back-to-school and college spending is projected to exceed the $100 billion mark for the first time ever ever despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation or NRF.

The survey released by NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics projects total spending for K-12 and college combined to reach $101.6 billion in 2020, up from last year's $80.7 billion and to exceed the $100 billion mark for the first time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to push back-to-school spending to record levels as families prepare for at-home learning amid the uncertainty over schools and colleges reopening in the fall, the survey noted.

The survey of 7,481 consumers was conducted from July 1 to July 8, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Consumers tentatively plan to spend a record amount in the back-to-school season this year as they buy expensive technology such as laptops and computer accessories in anticipation that at least some classes will take place online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid the pandemic uncertainty, 55 percent of shoppers surveyed said they expect K-12 and college students will take at least some of their classes at home this fall, while only 26 percent expect most or all classes will be taught in-person.

This year, parents with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average $789.49 per family, topping the previous record of $696.70 last year.

Overall, back-to-school spending is expected to total $33.9 billion in 2020, up from $26.2 billion last year and breaking the record of $30.3 billion set in 2012.

Meanwhile, college students and their families expect to spend an average $1,059.20 per family this year, exceeding last year's record of $976.78.

The NRF expects total back-to-college spending to total $67.7 billion, up from $54.5 billion last year and breaking the record of $55.3 billion set in 2018.

Even though bricks-and-mortar stores closed by the pandemic have started to reopen, they are likely to see lower sales this year, according to the survey.

55 percent of K-12 shoppers said they plan to buy online this year, up from 49 percent last year. Likewise, 43 percent of college shoppers also plan to make purchases online, though the figure is down from 45 percent last year.

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