CONSUMER WATCH: Back-to-School Spending

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Families will spend more to send children back to school, but they're still seeking ways to get the best deals on those purchases. 

Retailers estimate families with grade-school children will spend an average of just over $669 on back-to-school expenses this year, a total of $26.5-billion, according an annual survey by the National Retail Federation.

Spending per household is up five percent over one year ago, and as school districts ask families to provide more of their own classroom supplies, spending on those items has climbed 12-percent.

The biggest chunk of back-to-school money will be spent on electronics, more than $212 on average.

The bulk of consumers will start shopping early. Two-thirds of surveyed will start at least three weeks ahead of the first day of school, some as far out as two months. That's presumably because shoppers will also be on the hunt for deals.

When asked how the overall state of the US Economy will impact their shopping plans, almost half said they'll look for sales more often. Others will do more comparative shopping either online or with print ad circulars. About one-quarter will also make do with items from last school year.

In many families, students will chip in for their own back-to-school expenses. Teens will kick in an estimated $913-million of their own cash, while tweens will add $544-million to the overall back-to-school haul.

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