(CBS NEWS) As families prepare for a new school year, millions of parents aren’t sure if their kids will actually be in the classroom this fall.
That’s making it difficult to figure out what kind of supplies they’ll need.
With so much uncertainty, retailers are changing the way they market during the back-to-school season.
“Retailers, like consumers, are looking at all possible scenarios for back to school,” says Katherine Cullen from the National Retail Federation.
The NRF predicts Americans will actually spend more than ever on back to school this year, a record $33.9 billion.
The average household is expected to shell out almost $790, about $93 more than last year.
“Big ticket items are certainly helping to drive up the spending this year. Most of them are expecting they will have to make some purchases for a home learning environment. Things like laptops, headphones, but also furniture, lamps, desks,” Cullen says.
Hannah DiRenzo is usually getting her kids ready for a new school year right now.
“Normally I would probably be looking for sales by now, getting new clothes, and school supplies,” she says.
Today things are far from normal. Her district is planning a hybrid schedule with students learning at school and home, but that’s not finalized.
“It’s frustrating,” DiRenzo says. “I’m not really sure what we’re going to do if they open up schools, depending on the guidelines and how the cases are in the area. I might end up homeschooling them.”
DiRenzo says she is prepared for at-home learning after getting electronics when school shut down in the spring.
The plan now is to wait to see what happens before buying any new supplies.
The National Retail Federation also expects back-to-college spending to hit a record this year, an estimated $67.7 billion.