The National Retail Federation is Bullish on Back-to-School

WWD reported that the National Retail Federation (NRF) is expecting strong sales based on findings from their annual back-to-school (b-t-s) survey. The NRF projects that spending for kindergarten through high school will increase by 12.5% from 2022 and back-to-college spending will jump 27% year-over-year.

“Back-to-class shopping is one of the most important consumer shopping occasions of the year. Our research for 2023 shows American consumers are eager to jump-start their back-to-school and college purchases early,” NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said in a statement.

The WWD article noted a more pessimistic outlook from Deloitte whose survey indicated more than 2/3rds of respondents “would spend the same or less than a year ago” due to pressure on disposable income. “However, 57 percent of those surveyed said they are willing to splurge on clothing/accessories” according to Deloitte’s findings.

One factor apparel retailers could benefit from this back-to-school and early fall shopping season is a more favorable weather environment. August 2022 was the 8th warmest on record followed by the 5th warmest September, conditions that delayed the consumer’s shift to fall season purchasing. Planalytics is projecting positive Weather-Driven Demand (a measure of how much changes in the weather affect sales) versus last year with cooler temperatures supporting categories including fleece, boots, outerwear, and sweaters.

Western markets are in line to record strong comp performance numbers – with weather impacts up to +15% for some of these categories – due to the warmer, less favorable weather experienced across the Southwest, Northwest, and Rocky Mountain regions last August and September.

“Each year since 2003 the NRF has conducted a survey on back-to-class shopping trends. Its survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points. Back-to-school shopping typically peaks in mid- to late July and continues steady through August until tapering off by mid-September.”

For more b-t-s insights, register for the NRF’s July 24th Webinar. The association’s Chief Economist, Jack Kleinhenz, and Vice President of Industry and Consumer Insights, Katherine Cullen, will discuss the latest data on consumers’ shopping and spending plans for the upcoming back-to-school season.