“This week is almost considered a light Christmas for us,” Martin said of the back to school retail rush. “We have to staff up for it.”
The National Retail Federation (NRF) released its back-to-school economic projections last month, estimating that combined K through 12 and college spending will reach $55.12 billion. In Nevada, that total is expected to be about $252 million, according to the Retail Association of Nevada.
“It should be a good barometer on how we think fall spending will pan out,” said Bryan Wachter, director of government affairs for the Nevada Retail Association.
The National Retail Federation’s 2010 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back to School survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average American family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics, compared to $548.72 last year, and close to the $594.24 total in 2008. Total spending on school-aged children in grades K through 12 alone is expected to reach $21.35 billion. Nevada’s numbers for family spending are projected to be in line with the national projections, Wachter said.
However, he added a cautionary note that since the beginning of the recession, Nevada has not accurately hit any of the national retail projections for back to school.
“We don’t think it will be up that 10.5 percent,” he said. “But we are cautiously optimistic.”
In Sparks, Target staffers were stocking the store with what Martin called “soft lines,” which is mainly clothing.
“Those departments just go crazy,” Martin said. “We sell more in those weeks (in clothing) than we do at Christmas.”
According to the NRF, spending on apparel will take up the majority of consumers’ budgets with the average family of school-aged kids expected to spend $225.47 on jeans, shirts and other types of clothing. Running the gamut from laptops and net books to smart phones and MP3 players, parents are expected to spend an average of $181.60 on their children’s electronic or computer-related school needs, the survey also said. Families will also spend an average of $102.93 on shoes and $96.39 on school supplies.
As far as where families will shop this year, 71.2 percent will head to a discount store and more than half (53.9 percent) will visit their favorite department store. Whether to save a few bucks and compare prices or simply because of the convenience, more people will shop online this year — 30.8 percent versus 22.2 percent last year.
But what does this mean for recession-ridden retailers?
“We are encouraged by the fact that parents are eager to start their back to school shopping this year, but the industry still remains cautiously optimistic about recovery,” said NRF president and CEO Matt Shay. “As the second half of the year gets under way, retailers will gauge their customers’ spending appetites, which often serve as a bellwether for the all-important holiday season.”
While the increased spending may not bring the state out of its recessionary slump, both the national and statewide retail forecasters believed back to school spending could point to revenues during the holiday season, which is the biggest of the year for retailers.
“Anytime you get an increase in sales for any specific reason, there is an extra influx into the economy and that is good for business,” Wachter said. “Hopefully that starts us off on a good fall spending pattern.”