Retailers hoping to hear bells ring, but back-to-school sales may fall short

Back-to-school spending predictions have waned since peaking in 2012.

Back-to-school shopping this year may not be the boon retailers are hoping to realize.

A consumer survey report-ed by the National Retail Federation found that total spending on back-to-school goods is expected to hit $26.5 billion, slightly less than consumers said they would spend last year. The average family with schoolchildren expects to spend $669 on school supplies and apparel. Total spending on electronics alone is expected to reach $8.4 billion.

Back-to-school spending predictions hit a historic high in 2012, when consumers said they'd spend a total of $30 billion. That was nearly 75 percent more than they were willing to spend in 2009, when the country was in the throes of a recession.

Back-to-school shopping, a major earnings period for retailers, may have dropped slightly in recent years, but Matthew Shay, federation CEO, said there's reason to be optimistic. "Slow improvements in the economy may have contributed to the growth in confidence among back-to-school shoppers, and while we are encouraged by the overall tone of the results and expect to see continued improvement in consumer spending through the year, we know Americans are still grappling with their purchase decisions every day," he said.

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Garden Ridge, the home decor superstore in part of the former Sam's Club at 6185 Rivers Ave., has a new look.

The retail chain based in Texas said last month that it was rebranding its stores with the name At Home, which was recently installed on the North Charleston store's fa- cade and on its 71 other U.S. stores, including Greenville.

The rebranding efforts, which cost $20 million, according to the company, have also involved redesigning the stores to make them easier for customers to navigate. By year's end, the retailer plans to open 13 new At Home stores across the country.