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The cost of starting a new school year

A degree in economics isn’t necessary to recognize that back-to-school season is a boon to retailers, and that may never be more true than this year. Aside from tuition and other direct education expenses, K-12 and college students are expected to spend a combined total of $83.6 billion on pens, pencils, backpacks, new duds and all the other accoutrements that go along with starting a new school year, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey of back-to-school spending. That’s an increase of more than 10 percent over last year, with college students accounting for the lion’s share—$54.1 billion. As for K-12 students, parents plan to spend an average of $687.72. The total amount spent by all students is the highest recorded by the NRF since the surveys began in 2007, but K-12 student spent more in 2012, $30.3 billion, compared with $29.5 billion projected to be spent this year.