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    Back-to-College Spending Hits $36.6 Billion: NRF

    WASHINGTON -- While most back-to-college categories, like clothing and dorm furnishings, will see modest gains this year, the season will continue to grow due to an incredible increase in electronics spending, according to the fourth annual NRF 2006 Back-to-College Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

    WASHINGTON -- While most back-to-college categories, like clothing and dorm furnishings, will see modest gains this year, the season will continue to grow due to an incredible increase in electronics spending, according to the fourth annual NRF 2006 Back-to-College Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

    The survey estimates that college students and their parents will spend $36.6 billion returning to campus this year, up 6.3 percent and more than double what parents of K-12 students will spend on back-to-school.

    The biggest driver in college spending this year will be in electronics. College students are expected to spend 27.5 percent more on electronics purchases ($10.46 billion), as the category expands to include flat screen TVs, XBoxes, iPods, and notebook computers.

    Spending on dorm furnishings, which has been a large driver of college spending, is expected to be moderate this year with the category growing 5.4 percent to $3.82 billion. Clothing and accessories sales, at $5.78 billion, are expected to be flat, though shoe sales will see an impressive 13.0 percent increase to $2.26 billion. Two categories, school supplies (down 14 percent to $2.55 billion) and textbooks (down 1.8 percent to $11.69 billion) will see decreases in spending.

    "Today's college students were using computers before they could write, which explains their gravitation toward electronics," said NRF president and c.e.o. Tracy Mullin in a statement. "By merchandising and marketing to the college crowd, retailers are hoping to not only boost this year's sales but also to gain customers for life."

    Though spending on college items will rise this year, students and their parents will be scaling back on the number of stores where they will purchase merchandise. This year, fewer students plan to shop at discount stores (55.8 percent last year vs. 51.8 percent this year), drug stores (12.8 percent vs. 10.9 percent), office supply stores (41.0 percent vs. 38.8 percent), and college bookstores (59.8 percent vs. 56.8 percent). In fact, the only two sectors that will see an increase in traffic this year include department stores (36.1 percent last year vs. 39.3 percent this year) and specialty stores (20.8 percent vs. 23.5 percent).

    The NRF 2006 Back-to-College Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the Back to School season. The survey, which polled 8,529 consumers, was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from Aug. 2-9. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

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