This year, students expected to spend $10.46B on electronic equipment

Bob Albrecht and Bob Albrecht

EUGENE, Ore. – For the American college student, back to school basics used to mean number two pencils, notebooks and maybe a protractor. Today, most students are in the market for something substantially more high-tech and expensive.

Yesterday’s pen and pad have been replaced by a new notebook with a $1000 price tag and wireless Web access.

College students will spend the bulk of their back-to-school dollars on electronics, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2006 Back-to-College Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. Of the estimated $36.6 billion students will spend preparing for school, $10.46 billion will be spent on iPods, laptops, flatscreen TVs, Xboxes, and a slew of other electronic items intended to make entertainment easier, in addition to aiding in academic pursuits.

That estimate is up 27.5 percent from last year’s sales.

The survey shows that electronics outperforms other popular back-to-school shopping categories such as clothing, dorm and apartment furnishings, shoes and school supplies, according to BIGresearch, the consumer intelligence firm that compiled data online from 8,529 consumers. The only larger market share is held by textbooks.

Elias Gayles a supervisor at Digital Duck electronics section of Oregon’s University Bookstore, said he has noticed the increased spending, with the majority of sales coming from laptop computers and iPods.

“Sales get crazy during back to school shopping,” he said. “We sell a lot of iPods and laptops, when you buy one of our MacBooks you get a rebate that can be used towards an iPod.”