Laptops, Flash Drives, Digital Camera, Software Spur Back To School Spending - InformationWeek

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Laptops, Flash Drives, Digital Camera, Software Spur Back To School Spending

Electronic and apparel purchases will fuel this year's back-to-school growth, says the National Retail Federation.

Spending on home computers, laptops, PDAs, calculators, and other electronics for back-to-school electronic gadgets is estimated to grow more than $1.5 billion this year to $3.82 billion, an industry trade association said Tuesday.

While spending will jump in all categories, electronic and apparel purchases will fuel this year's back-to-school growth, says the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2006 Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. The report says families with school-aged children will spend more on back-to-school shopping this year than last.

"We see a big bounce back in consumer electronics this year, and we think it is fueling back to school spending," said Scott Krugman, spokesman for the NRF, an industry trade association with more than 1.4 million U.S. retail store members. "As more classrooms become computerized, we think students will go with more laptops and PDAs, and some would argue the iPod is a back-to-college item."

The average family will spend $527.08 in 2006, up from $443.77 last year. The survey concludes total spending is estimated to reach $17.6 billion, up from $13.4 billion last year.

Forrester Research Inc. consumer electronics analyst Ted Schadler agrees the PC is the No. 1 item for what's hot in back-to-school items because many more schools, especially private, are requiring students to have a laptop. "Something new this year that's attracting college students is the entertainment 17-inch laptop," he said. "The high-end ones come with TV tuner, and movie and music center to store files."

Meanwhile, 15.2 percent of the consumers who participated in the study said they will purchase back to school items online, compared with 13.6 in 2005, Krugman said. "That doesn't account for those who will research items on the Web before they buy," he added.

Discount stores will remain popular back-to-school shopping spots, with 72.2 percent of shoppers heading to discounters to purchase items. More than half, 53.3 percent, of consumers will head to major department stores to complete a portion of their back-to-school needs, compared with 39.7 percent in 2005.

The NRF 2006 Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, which polled 9,032 consumers, was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, a consumer market research firm, for one week beginning July 5.

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