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Apparel Sales Will Take Biggest Back to School Beating

In a tough back to school selling environment, it looks like apparel is going to take the biggest hit among major seasonal product categories, according to a study by IBISWorld.

In a way, George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld, echoed recent comments by Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke when he commented on the study, saying, "Parents will inevitably put more thought and less dollars into their back-to-school shopping strategies."

Van Horn added that discount-oriented retailers, including dollar stores, "can expect to see a greater wave of traffic since parents are doing everything they can to save an extra buck."

In fact, according to the IBISWorld study, the average spend per child spend in apparel will slide from $144.54 last year to $136.60 in this year's back to school season, a decline of five-and-a-half percent. Total seasonal apparel sales will slide by over five percent, the firm asserted, to $7.6 billion in 2009.

Footwear also is looking at a tough back to school campaign, with sales falling from $67.66 spent per child in 2008 to $64.59 in the period underway currently, a decline of almost five percent. Total sales should fall just over four percent to $3.6 billion.

The electronics product category, while still not generating the same sales as last year, looks to do somewhat better with spend per child slipping just under two percent from $93.45 to $91.69. Overall sales should slip by about the same proportion to $5.12 billion.

Basic school supply sales should be just about flat, with the per child spend at $60.64 in this year's season versus 2008's $60.63. Overall sales will also come in at about $3.4 billion in both years.

In aggregate, back to school spending will retrograde by three-and-a-half percent from $366.28 to $353.51 per child, according to the study, or about three-and-a-third percent overall to $19.7 billion in total.