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Back-to-school, college spending to increase this year

BY Dan Berthiaume

WASHINGTON — Families this summer will spend slightly more on back-to-school items than they did in 2013. According to NRF’s 2014 Back-to-School Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5% from $634.78 in 2013.

NRF broke out spending by grade and, according to the survey, families with high school students will spend the most. The survey found the average family shopping for high school students will spend $682.99, while spending on middle school/junior high comes in a close second at $682.13. Parents with elementary school-age children will spend an average of $580.94.

Total spending on back to school will drop slightly to $26.5 billion as the survey found there are slightly fewer students in households this summer.

Overall, every category will see an increase in spending, including healthy increases in average spend on supplies and electronics. According to the survey, back-to-school shoppers will spend an average $212.35 on electronic items, up 7% from $199.05 in 2013, with total spend expected to reach $8.4 billion. High school students and their families specifically will spend an average $229.88 on electronic items.

Perhaps due to school districts’ growing requests for classroom supply contributions, spending on school supplies will increase 12% to an average of $101.18, compared to $90.49 in 2013. In addition, shoppers will spend an average of $231.30 on clothes, up from $230.85, and $124.46 on shoes, up from $114.39 in 2013.

The survey found 53.8% of back-to-school shoppers will shop a clothing store, up from 51.5% last year and a survey high; 27.5% will shop at electronics stores, up from 25.9% last year and another survey high. Six-in-10 (64.4%) will visit discount stores, 59.1% will shop at their favorite department store, 42% will shop at office supply stores, 38.2% will shop online, and 20.5% will shop at drug stores.

The survey also found 36.7% of smartphone owners shopping for school items will research products using their mobile device, up from 34.7% last year and the highest since NRF started asking in 2011; 1-in-5 (21.8%) will make a purchase via their smartphone, up from 18.2% last year and another survey high. And while many will simply shop online directly through their smartphone, 25.1% will use their device to find information about a physical store.

School shoppers who own tablets also will use their device more to shop this summer; 31.4% will purchase school items via their tablet, up from 29.9% last year, and 45% will research products, up from 41.8% last year.

In addition, NRF’s 2014 Back-to-College Survey found the average college student and their family will spend $916.48 on dorm furniture, school supplies, electronics and more, up 10% from $836.83 in 2013. Total college spending is expected to reach $48.4 billion. Combined college and school spending is expected to reach $74.9 billion.

When it comes to mobile usage, nearly 6-in-10 (57.8%) will use their smartphone in some fashion as they shop for college items. Of those with smartphones, the survey found 33.8% will research products, the highest since NRF added mobile shopping questions to its survey in 2011. Additionally, 22.4% will purchase items, up from 19.1% last year and another survey high, and 29.8% will look up retailer information, up from 20.9% in 2013. More than half (54.5%) of tablet owners will use their tablet to shop for college items. Specifically, 37.4% will research products, and 27% will use their tablet to purchase items.

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New survey highlights ‘cleaning confessions’ of Americans

BY Ryan Chavis

SKOKIE, Ill. — Americans have a cleaning obsession, according to a new survey commissioned by CLR. One-third of Americans say that they're obsessed with cleaning, with the average American spending nearly five hours a week cleaning. Mothers with children under eight years old spend an average of nine hours a week using elbow grease. Fifty-two percent say that cleaning is therapeutic to them.

The "CLR Cleaning Confessions" survey was conducted by TNS to examine cleaning habits and pet peeves of adutls as well as how cleanliness affects their behavior. Other survey highlight include:

  • Thirty-three percent of Americans have gone out of their way to avoid visiting a friend or family member's home because it's too dirty;
  • Thirty-five percent readily admit that their bathroom is the dirtiest room in the home; 19% only clean their bathrooms once a month; and
  • Triggers that motivate Americans to start scrubbing include: feeling sticky, dirty surfaces (64%), seeing stains or residue n surfaces (62%), smelling unpleasant odors (52%) and seeing mold or mildew on surfaces (39%).

The survey also shined a light on cleanliness outside the confines of the home: half of Americans flush the toilet with their feet; 42% use a paper towel to open public doors and more than one-quarter wipe down silverware at restaurants and surfaces in hotel rooms.

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Urnex Brands launches Keurig cleaning solution

BY Ryan Chavis

ELMSFORD, N.Y. — Urnex Brands announced CleanCup Single Cup Brewer cleaning cups, a solution for Keurig owners looking to give their at-home brewing machines a thorough scrubdown.

The cleaning cups brew just like a regular K-Cup, remove residue from the machine's exit needle and also help to extend the life of the machine, according to the company.

"The key to great-tasting coffee lies with a clean machine," said Joshua Dick, president of Urnex Brands. "With the recent increase in coffee prices around the world, we want to do everything we can to help people make every cup taste its best. Seventy-two percent of coffee is prepared at home with an increasing number of Americans using single cup brewers*. While we make products for all types of machines, we really wanted to provide a cleaning solution for the Keurig K-Cup Brewer — now we have."

CleanCup is available at various retailers, including Amazon.com, Bed Bath and Beyond and Walmart Canada.

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