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Retailers Brace for Lower Back-to-School Sales

Course the biggest component of back-to-school budgets will go toward new apparel and accessories, however fewer families with children in grades K-12 will purchase electronics (55.7%), and those that are going to invest in a new tablet or smartphone are going to spend slightly less than last year ($199.05 vs. $217.88 in 2012), the survey found.

Shoppers will mainly frequent their favorite discount stores, but more respondents said they will also visit department stores (61.7% vs. 59.9%). That's good news for the likes of Macy's (M - Get Report) and J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report), for instance.

J.C. Penney's CEO Mike Ullman has expressed that the company's is depending on back-to-school sales to fast forward its turnaround. Ullman was brought back as CEO in April following the departure of Ron Johnson, who did away with many of the retailer's sales and coupons and private apparel lines, much to the dislike of consumers.

Consumers also plan to spend less in the larger back-to-college market.

According to a separate NRF survey, college students and their families will spend an average $836.83 on apparel, electronics, dorm furnishings and other things, down 8% from last year.

While consumers plan to spend fewer dollars in most college-related categories, companies like Target (TGT - Get Report), Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report), TJX's (TJX - Get Report) Home Goods store and Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY - Get Report) that can cater to dorm and apartment furnishings, will benefit.

About 42% of families will spend an average $104.76, up 4% from last year, on new bedding, small refrigerators and microwaves.

"The back-to-college market continues to grow, with specialty, discount, department, office supply and even drug stores luring students and their parents with attractive deals on everything from microwavable food products to personal care items and of course, home furnishings. In such a competitive space, we expect the deals over the next few weeks to really turn some heads," NRF's Shay said.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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