Online Sales of School Supplies Could Cut Into Retailers’ Share

Spending on back-to-school supplies in Nevada will likely remain stagnant this year, but a jump in online sales could reduce the portion of state retailers.

A National Retail Federation (NRF) survey estimates 31.7 percent and 33.4 percent of families with K-12 children and college-aged students, respectively, will be doing most of their back-to-school shopping online. That is up over last year from 30.8 percent and 28.6 percent.

According to the NRF, families with children in K-12 will spend an average of $604 this year, about the same as last year’s $606. Families with college-bound children will spend about $809, a 3.2 percent drop from 2010.

Based on the 2010 U.S. Census, about 335,000 households in Nevada have children in K-12. They are expected to spend about $200 million on school supplies, if national trends hold true in the state, says a report from the Retail Association of Nevada (RAN). That’s an increase of almost 15 percent, but the report warns the rise is due to a jump in estimated population to calculate the spending, not an increase in “real” new residents.

About 148,000 Nevada residents will be enrolled in college this year, accounting for about $120 million in spending on school supplies.

“Families are approaching back-to-school spending this year with discipline, as average spending levels reported per family show no change after increasing 10.5 percent between 2009 and 2010,” said Mary Lau, RAN president in a press release. “In addition, bricks and mortar retailers in Nevada will likely see less of a seasonal uptick as Internet sales continue to gain market share.”