According to the National Retail Federation’s 2006 Back-to-School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, families with school-aged children will be spending more on back-to-school shopping this year than last, with the average family spending $527.08, up from $443.77 in 2005. Total spending is estimated to reach $17.6 billion, up from $13.4 billion last year, an increase of 31.3%.

Apparel is expected to be a big performer, with the average consumer expected to spend $228.14 (up from $205.31 in 2005). Other popular items on consumers’ back-to-school lists include shoes ($98.34) and school supplies, such as notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks, and lunchboxes ($86.22).

Once again this year, the survey found shifts in spending by region. Consumers in the West are beefing up their back-to-school budgets ($409.19 last year vs. $479.45 this year), while spending in the South is expected to rise as well ($434.09 in 2005 vs. $544.54 this year). Though consumers in the Midwest cut back in 2005 ($404.68), they are expected to bump up spending ($521.10) this year. The only area where consumers are pulling back is in the Northeast, where consumers will be spending an estimated $456.38, down from $513.07 in 2005.