My husband and I recently brought our daughter back to college in the Southeast. Since she is a sophomore, most of her dorm décor was bought last year and was in storage, although right before we left we debated the merits of different mini fridges (the fridge has since been purchased and is happily in use).
Last summer, however, was a different story. My daughter spent considerable time planning her color scheme, determining her personal aesthetic, and deciding what she needed to feel comfortable and at home. She consulted with her roommates and watched plenty of YouTube videos made by other students regarding what they considered dorm room essentials.
My son, meanwhile, hung his Frisbee on a push pin and considered his decorating done. I am not exaggerating.
I suspect there are more college freshmen like my daughter than my son, which is one of the reasons the back-to-college business is not only booming but seemingly resilient to potential economic downturn. Back-to-school is the second biggest shopping season after Christmas, and it is growing. As reported in our cover story, total back-to-college spending is expected to reach $74 billion, the highest number ever reached in the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.
What’s more, since 2019, total expected back-to-college spending has grown by $19 billion, and although inflation plays a role in that growth, it does not account for the total amount — consumers said they plan to spend more this year than they did prior to the pandemic.
Not all this money is being spent on laptops and other computer equipment. Spending on furnishings for dorms or apartments is expected to hit $10 billion this year.
A $10 billion market cannot be ignored. But I suspect it flies under the