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Survey: Back-to-school shopping costs families $669, on average

Wednesday - 8/13/2014, 11:58am  ET

back to school shopping (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Families are averaging more than $660 on back-to-school shopping in 2014, according to a National Retail Federation survey. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- On average, families will spend more than $660 on back-to-school shopping -- an increase of five percent since 2013, according to the National Retail Federation's annual survey.

The NRF estimates that American families with children in kindergarten through high school will spend an average of $669.28 this year for a total of $26.5 billion, according to the survey. Also, college students and their parents will spend an average $916, up 10 percent for a total of $48.4 billion, the survey found.

Improvements in the economy boosted consumer confidence, which led to more spending on items such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and other electronic items needed by students, the NRF says.

"We expect parents to continue to use caution but also make smart decisions for their family budget that are a good balance between what their children want and what they actually need," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release.

The amount families are expected to spend on back-to-school shopping surprised Montgomery County parent Kate Amin.

"No way! I didn't spend anywhere near that," she said.

But Amin and other people in Montgomery County said that number sounds high for them.

"I don't spend that much… Well, the first purchase, before school starts, it's about $200 [to] $300," said parent Patricia Aravena.

On the other hand, $669 might be a dream for Keschelle Simms.

"I have five children, all of which are school-age," she said. "So, I'll probably spend between that [and] maybe $1,000 including clothing."

One way to save money on back-to-school shopping is to shop during statewide tax-free days, which Maryland has this week.

But some people in Montgomery County said tax-free week hasn't affected their decision of when to go shopping.

"It doesn't make or break my decision into when to shop," Simms said. "I shop according to my pay checks, and I kind of break down what I can do each pay period based upon what I have available. So it helped me, but it wasn't a reason why I shopped."

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Zoe Sagalow, special to, contributed to this report.

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