Back To School Spending Could Be Boon To Nevada Retailers Hit Hard By Recession

CARSON CITY – Nevada families with school-age children will spend $174 million for back-to-school supplies this month if spending trends track with national estimates, the Retail Association of Nevada reported today.

Just under 30 percent of an estimated one million households in Nevada are expected to have one or more children in grades kindergarten through 12. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average American family will spend $606 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics to prepare to head back to school. This translates into approximately $174 million in back-to-school spending by Nevada families.

Nevada’s estimated 435,000 school children are headed back to school at the end of August, and if spending trends in Nevada resemble those being reported nationally, they will be spending approximately 10.5 percent more per family than last year.

Mary Lau, president of the Retail Association of Nevada, said: “If national forecasts hold true, a 10.5 percent increase in back-to-school spending would be fantastic news for Nevada retailers. However, increased national spending forecasts this past Christmas shopping season did not come to pass for many of them.

“Consequently, we remain cautiously optimistic that increased expectations for spending during this back-to-school shopping season will materialize within the state,” she said.

With Nevada having the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 14.2 percent as of June, “it seems somewhat unlikely that we will witness the extent of increases expected for the nation’s retailers,” Lau said.

The largest category of back-to-school spending is clothing, with families estimating they will spend $225 on pants, shirts, and jackets, among other apparel. The latest taxable sales results in Nevada suggest clothing sales are on the rise, with sales up 10.7 percent year-over-year for the month of May.

Overall Nevada taxable sales have been lagging for many months, however, with growth seen only once in 21 monthly reports through May 2010.

In the NRF survey, electronics were a close second, with families expecting to spend $182 on laptops, smart phones and MP3 players. Families expected to spend $103 on shoes, and finally, $96 on school supplies.

Families with college-aged students are expected to spend $616, down slightly from the previous year’s $618, on new apparel, furniture, school supplies and electronics. With the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey estimating 127,000 students enrolled in college and graduate programs in Nevada, this translates into an estimated additional $78 million spent by those requiring back-to-school purchases to pursue higher learning.

The Retail Association of Nevada also reports that in addition to having the highest unemployment rate in the nation, the state has one of the highest rates of homelessness among school children and school children living in poverty. Despite smatterings of positive developments in the state, challenging economic conditions may depress back-to-school expenditures for a significant number of families this season, the association said.

The data was generated for the association by Applied Analysis, a Nevada-based firm providing information and analyses for the public and private sectors.

  • Tony’s Take

    Let’s hope smart shoppers will look for a “Made in the USA” label.