Job and wage growth expected to lead to record back-to-school spending

Most parents know about the extensive, arduous process of back-to-school shopping. You take your kids to the local Target or Walmart, sift through a sea of supplies for perfectly-ruled notebooks and the seemingly undiscoverable graphing paper, and navigate your way past dozens of other families committed to the same goal. It’s no easy process, but as many parents know, it’s crucial to a students’ success – and this year, more supplies could be purchased than ever before.

A recent study by retail research firm Customer Growth Partners found that U.S. spending on back-to-school supplies will rise 5.1 percent year-over-year and reach a record $616 billion 

Brick-and-mortar superstores are supposed to see a 5.5 percent gain in sales, according to the study, but online distributors are the real winners for school shopping with an 11.7 percent jump. 

The record sales can largely be attributed to the present strength of the economy. Because of the record job and subsequent wage growth, consumers are willing to spend more money on goods, such as school supplies. In fact, this national trend translates to Arizona, specifically.

“Arizona ranked second in the nation for year-over-year job growth, according to the latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” Governor’s Office representative Ben Petersen said. “Arizona also ranked second for personal income growth in the first quarter of 2019, per a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report.”

Back-to-school spending is one of many beneficial downstream effects of rising wages. With more money in their pockets, citizens are more willing to spend, which directly contributes to the economy. Although consumer spending slid in the first quarter of 2019, consumer sentiment reached its highest point in 15 years last month, and this projection by Customer Growth Partners is a strong signal of continuing confidence. 

“With more jobs and businesses moving here, Arizona has more dollars to invest in the things that matter, like K-12 schools, child safety and public safety,” Petersen said. “Preliminary full-year 2019 General Fund revenue data suggests a strong 11.2% year-over-year growth rate, fueled in large part by individual income tax collections.”

A record back-to-school spending year would provide a crucial win for the economy as it pushes for its 3 percent GDP growth pace. Further, it epitomizes the direct influence that consumers have on the economy, on both a local and national scale.

“As students and parents get ready to head back to school, Arizona’s economy shows more signs of strong growth — delivering more new jobs, bigger paychecks and record revenue,” Petersen said. 

Ben Norman

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