MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are plenty of summer days still ahead, but retailers are already eyeing the fall return to classrooms and to campus.

A new survey shows that for about one in four families, back-to-school and back-to-college shopping is already underway.

While the bulk of back-to-school dollars will go towards new clothes and accessories, a survey finds more than half of families will buy electronics, ringing up about $8.4 billion in sales.

“Spending on tablets and smartphones and tablets is more synonymous with back-to-school than ever before,” said Kathy Grannis, with the National Retail Federation. “Parents want to make sure that their children have the tablets and the smartphones that they need for the upcoming school year, perhaps because they know that keeps children off of their devices.”

In fact, electronic devices make up the biggest chunk of an average household’s back-to-college budget.

The National Retail Federation found overall back-to-school and back-to-college spending is expected to drop versus last year, as consumers weigh spending decisions more carefully. With that in mind, retailers may price accordingly.

“Many retailers will actually offer great promotions on tablets this year,” Grannis said. “And for parents that are looking for a good deal, this is a great time to invest in those types of devices, maybe along the lines of deals we see during the Christmas season.”

Two-thirds of shoppers will hit discount retailers for their purchases, but nearly 4 in 10 will do shopping through online and mobile channels.

Despite having to spend more on back to school supplies, the National Retail Federation says students and parents will spend about 8 percent less than last year.

Experts predict a lot of those savings will come by shopping earlier for sales, shopping online, and having kids reuse some supplies from the year before.


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