Student Loan Repayments Could Slam Big-Name Retailers This Fall
As student loans come due this fall, experts are warning of a potential impact on retail sales as graduates struggle to pay down their debt. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2021, over 42 million Americans owe a collective $1.6 trillion in student debt. While student loan payments were on pause during the pandemic, payments will resume in October for most borrowers, adding an additional burden to an already-strained economy. This looming challenge could have significant consequences for retailers who rely on student spending, and it’s important to consider the potential impact of student loan repayments on the retail industry.
The Burden of Student Loan Repayments
According to Forbes, the average monthly payments for student loans range from $200 to $300 per month. While this may not seem like an exorbitant amount of money, it is significant for recent graduates who are already struggling to make ends meet. According to a report from the Pew Research Center, the median household income for young adults (ages 18 to 34) in 2019 was $62,434, a decline from the peak of $68,491 in 2000. When combined with increasing costs of living, including housing, healthcare, and groceries, student loan repayments can put a significant dent in a person’s budget.
The Impact on Retailers
One of the key industries that could be impacted by the resumption of student loan payments is retail. Graduates are a significant market for retail spending, accounting for approximately $200 billion in annual purchases. Retailers have long relied on these young consumers to drive sales, and the resumption of student loan payments could put a damper on that spending.
Clothing and Accessory Retailers
Clothing and accessory retailers are likely to be affected by the resumption of student loan payments, as they are highly dependent on young shoppers. According to a report from the National Retail Federation, clothing and accessory retailers were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, with sales declining by over 19% in 2020. While there has been a modest recovery in sales, the resumption of student loan payments could put a damper on that growth.
Another industry that could be impacted by the resumption of student loan payments is technology retailers. Young adults are particularly enthusiastic consumers of technology, buying computers, smartphones, and other devices at a rapid clip. Student loan payments could put a further strain on these consumers’ budgets, however, leading to lower sales for technology retailers.
Food and Beverage Retailers
Finally, food and beverage retailers could also be impacted by the resumption of student loan payments. Many young adults rely heavily on restaurants, bars, and coffee shops for socializing, and these businesses could see a decline in sales if graduates cut back on these luxuries to pay down their student loans. This could be particularly problematic for businesses that have not yet recovered from the pandemic.
The resumption of student loan payments this fall is likely to have a significant impact on the retail industry. As students struggle to pay down their debt, they may cut back on spending in areas such as clothing, technology, and food and beverage, all of which are critical sectors for retailers. While some retailers may be able to weather this storm, others may struggle to survive if they are highly dependent on young consumers. For this reason, it is critical for retailers to pay close attention to this issue and develop strategies to mitigate the impact on their businesses.