Survey: Back-to-school sales expected to see 5.4% increase

New York A survey released Thursday by the International Council of Shopping Centers found that the back-to-school spending season is forecast to increase 5.4% over last year.

In 2009, the retail store categories that the U.S. Commerce Department segments as back-to-school -- family clothing, shoes, electronics and books -- dropped 2.8%; in 2008, they dipped 0.4%.

July 2009 back-to-school sales were particularly weak, declining 5.9%.

“Based on arithmetic alone, the expected July jump in BTS spending could be extremely strong,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC. “Layer on some fundamental improvement in the consumer economy, including some pickup in the pace of earnings growth, and we should see a strong 7.6% rise for July, continued strength in August with a 5.7% increase, and a moderate 3% rise in September for BTS spending.  Overall we are projecting BTS season sales to increase by a solid 5.4%, potentially the strongest showing since 2005 (+6.4%),” he added.

By category, family clothing is likely to show the strongest spurt with a 6.5% increase.  Electronics and shoes will not be far behind, with each forecasted to post a solid 5% gain for the 2010 back-to-school season.

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