Graduation season means big business for Florida businesses.
The National Retail Federation estimates total spending is expected to reach $5.6 billion this graduation season, a nearly 4 percent increase over last year when consumers spent $5.4 billion buying gifts for graduates.
The 2017 estimate is expected to be the highest amount spent in the 11 years the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insight & Analytics have surveyed consumers about their spending habits for graduates.
“Graduation is a significant achievement in someone’s life as they end one chapter and begin a new one and recognizing this is important for a graduate’s family and friends,” said R. Scott Shalley, the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “With loved ones eager to celebrate this important milestone, we expect the gifts to Sunshine State graduates to reach record numbers this year, which is great news for Florida retailers.”
The survey asked 7,335 consumers across the nation about the graduations gifting plans.
Cash was the most popular gift, with 53 percent of respondents saying they planned to give graduates money as a graduation present this year.
The appeal of cash seems to have waned over the years. A 2007 survey of graduation gifting habits by Prosper Insights & Analytics found 59 percent of respondents planned to give the graduates cash. By 2013, the percentage of people giving cash as a gift had dropped to 57 percent.
Women tend to give cash more than men, with 57 percent saying they planned give money as a gift; while 48 percent of men said they were giving cash. The report found 63 percent of Americans over the age of 65 are planning to give cash this year; compared to just 44 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 will give their money as a graduation present.
Interest in giving graduates gift cards appears to be holding steady, if not increasing slightly, since 2007.
According to report, 33 percent of respondents said they planned to give graduates gift cards this year as part of a gift to celebrate their graduation. That’s up from 2007, when 31 percent of respondents said they planned to give a card, and is on par with 2012 when about 33 percent of respondents said they were giving gift cards.
The survey found 41 percent of people planned to give graduates a card; 16 percent planned to give the gift of apparel; and 11 percent planned to give electronics as a present.
“As students mark the end of one chapter in their lives and start the next, friends and family will help prepare them for this new journey,” said Matthew Shay, the president and CEO of the National Retail Federation in a statement. “From gift cards to clothing and electronics, retailers will have their shelves stocked with a variety of options.”
Consumers, the report found, will buy for an average of two graduates this year, which is similar to previous years. However, while consumers aren’t buying for more graduates on average, they do appear to be poise to spend more money.
Consumers will spend an average of $104.92, or $53.29 per person, on graduates this year. That’s up from 5 percent from 2007, when consumers spent an average of $99.91, or $51.05, on graduates.
The report found the biggest spenders will likely be adults between the ages of 45 and 54, who said they planned to spend $119.84 on presents. Adults over the age of 65 said they planned to spend $112.34; while 18- to 24 year olds, most likely gifting to their peers, said they would spend an average of $78.42.
The survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics from May 2 through May 9, has a margin of error of 1.2 percent.