Florida consumers won’t skimp on back-to-school spending

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While inflation might cause consumers to rethink how they spend their money, families are still planning to pay a little for back to school.

The National Retail Federation reports that despite higher prices on things like food and gas, consumers are prioritizing back-to-school and back-to-college shopping this year.

“Necessities are the most protected segment of retail, and getting kids to school with clothes that fit them and all the accessories they need is definitely a necessity,” said Mark Mathews, Vice President of NRF research in a webinar on June 19.

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Total spending this back-to-school shopping season is expected to reach $37 billion, the same as in 2021. Back-to-school spending will reach $74 billion, according to an NRF survey, the highest figure on record and an increase of more than $71 billion last year.

Families with children in elementary and high school are expected to spend an average of $864 on school items, a $15 year-over-year increase, and families with college students will spend $1,199, which is basically stable compared to 2021.

The United States is heading back to school amid 25 straight months of year-over-year retail sales increases. Sales are up 7% so far this year from 2021 levels, according to the NRF.

But the consumer price index rose 9.1% year over year in June, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending in November 1981, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States. Inflation has overtaken COVID as the first thing on consumers’ minds, a recent NRF survey showed.

Although prices for specific items like computers and books haven’t increased significantly since 2019, spending has increased a lot. Total purchases for back-to-school have increased by $11 billion since before the pandemic and for back-to-school the increase was $19 billion, the NRF found.

Sales tax exemption:Florida families can buy many back-to-school items tax-free starting July 25

Much of that increase is due to increased spending on electronics, said Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights at the NRF. Laptops, calculators and mobile devices are being purchased at about the same rate as last year, but demand for accessories, speakers, printers and computer mice has slowed.

“About 50% of back-to-school spending growth from 2019 is specifically driven by the electronics category, and about a quarter of back-to-school spending growth is driven by electronics,” Cullen said. Spending on dorm and apartment furniture is also driving student spending higher.

Miya Wiley, 11, of Sarasota, entering 6th grade at Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences (SSAS) tries on a hoodie at Children's World on Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota on July 22, 2022. She was shopping with her sister Jasmine Wiley, 10, and father Eric Wiley.

In Florida, July 25 is the first day of the state’s back-to-school season, which lasts until August 7. School begins in Sarasota and Manatee counties three days later, August 10.

Items that will be tax exempt during the holidays include:

  • Some clothing, shoes and accessories sell for $100 or less per item.
  • Some school supplies sell for $50 or less per item.
  • Learning aids and puzzles retailing for $30 or less.
  • Personal computers and related accessories purchased for household or personal non-commercial use with a selling price of $1,500 or less.

Unlike previous sales tax holidays, which usually only lasted a few days, this one lasts almost two weeks. The idea was to give working families more time to shop, said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation.

Due to excess inventory, Shalley said, consumers can expect to see plenty of sales at retail stores, giving them more opportunities to save.

“On apparel items, some retailers have excess inventory, so I expect strong sales, which is an opportunity for additional savings alongside the tax relief,” Shalley said. “Supply chain uncertainty has driven many retailers to get what they could, and that has exceeded demand.”

The sales are likely to be popular as NRF data shows consumers are shopping for markdowns, comparing prices online, going to discount stores, eating out less and even changing their potential vacation plans to ensure they can afford back-to-school items.

To have enough money, 32% of consumers who earn less than $50,000 a year said they will either have to borrow money or go into debt. This percentage drops to 13% for consumers who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year and to 7% for people who earn more than $100,000.

But when asked if they should dip into their savings to cover back to school, 33% of consumers earning more than $100,000 said yes. This figure was 32% for consumers earning between $50,000 and $100,000 and 36% for those earning less than $50,000.

“We know rising prices and inflation are very important to consumers this year,” Cullen said.

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