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Back-to-school spending expected to rise 14%

A consumer shops for back-to-school supplies Newark Del.  |  AP file photo

A consumer shops for back-to-school supplies in Newark, Del. | AP file photo

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Updated: July 19, 2012 12:14PM

Back-to-school shopping this summer will see teens pitching in more of their allowances and moms logging onto the Internet and trekking to discount stores for the best bargains as worries about the economy weigh on spending, the National Retail Federation reports in its yearly forecast being released Thursday.

But average spending on children in grades K-12 will still rise to $688.62 on average, up 14 percent from last year’s $603.63, primarily because parents must ensure they buy necessary supplies and replace outgrown shoes and worn-out clothes and backpacks.

“Backpacks rip, pencils break and children grow, there’s no way around it,” said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Parents will make sure to spend smarter than they ever have before.”

Parents will spend the most on clothing, accessories and electronics, the spending survey shows. Six in 10 parents will buy an electronic device, spending an average of $217.88, up 15 percent from last year. Average spending on clothes and accessories will reach $258.91, up 9.4 percent from a year ago, according to the spending survey data.

Teens ages 13-17 say they will spend $36.48 on average on pens, paper, lunch boxes and other items, up 15 percent from last year.

Total spending nationwide for grades K-12 is expected to reach $30.3 billion, up 33 percent from last year.

Already, stores are boasting deals and innovations aimed at deal-seeking shoppers. Target’s yearly “Bonus Black Friday,” a summer event that parrots its Thanksgiving deals kickoff, is expanding from one day to two days, July 20-21, and will offer online specials July 22-28.

Walmart is launching “Classrooms by Walmart” at, a compilation of classroom supply lists from schools nationwide. The lists will be available in stores. The discounter also is featuring a wall of 100 items priced at 88 cents apiece.

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