OMAHA, Neb. — The back to school season is still uncertain, but the National Retail Federation says one thing is: Even if students stay home and learn virtually this school year, back-to-school sales could hit a record $100 billion.
The back-to-school shopping season is an important time for retailers.
"Typically the second largest season after the holidays," Westroads Mall senior general manager Jim Sadler said.
Clothes, school supplies and other items usually fill the list, and this year that list is growing with additional requirements like technology and hygiene products being in high demand.
In fact, the National Retail Federation is expecting record back to school sales.
According to estimates from the organization, this school season parents with kids K-12 will spend about $100 more on supplies. Parents with college students are also expected to spend around $100 more. As a result, total back to school spending is expected to reach $101.6 billion, up from $80.7 billion last year.
"Overall, yes it will increase. Whether it is going to be 20 percent like the National Retail Federation is saying or going to be around six to eleven percent that the other research organizations are saying, we will find out when the real data is going to come in," UNO professor and chair of the marketing and entrepreneurship department Phani Adidam said.
Adidam says that while the spending will increase, where that spending increases will vary.
"This year for back-to-school shopping technology will be number one, then school supplies and stationary will be number two and then clothing will be number three, which kind of flips everything from the past years. In the past years, clothing was always number one," he said.
Despite clothing sales falling to third place, Sadler says the numbers are surprisingly good this season.
"We have several stores that are actually posting pretty good gains during this period," Sadler said.
Online shopping has also increased in popularity, but so have the prices on those platforms. Adidam says if it's tougher for families to come by supplies this year, prioritizing is key.
"Talk to the school districts, prioritize properly, there are many back to school items on the lists that are not really needed," he said.
Not needed, because if schools switch to fully remote, that 64 count box of crayons may not be that necessary.