Parents aren't the only ones happy kids are headed back to classrooms -- so are retailers. That's because after several years of lackluster results, back-to-school spending is rebounding in a big way.
Combined back-to-school and back-to-college spending is expected to hit $83.8 billion, up double digits from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation. Last year the NRF estimated spending to be $68.8 billion.
The spending boost comes even as 85 percent of consumers say the state of the economy will affect their spending this season.
"The desperation is gone, and it's not as nostalgic as it was a few years ago," said Mike Gatti, a senior VP at the NRF. "Retailers are feeling pretty good and are coming out with new strategies."
Retailers have Mom and Dad to thank for the boost, of course, but more kids are also dipping into their piggy banks this season. According to the NRF survey, 43 percent of teens and 32 percent of pre-teens will spend their own money on back-to-school items, compared with 38 percent and 24 percent, respectively, a year ago.
A significant decline in teen spending was one of the hallmarks of the recession. Teens account for $125 billion in spending annually, with the average teen shelling out $5,000 a year at favorite stores and restaurants. But tight-fisted teens caused spending on categories from apparel to beauty and food to concerts to fall by double digits in the depths of the recession. Analysts say there are now concrete signs that the lucrative teen category is bouncing back.