Back-to-College Shopping

August 7, 2013 Updated Aug 7, 2013 at 8:49 AM EDT

August 7, 2013 Updated Aug 7, 2013 at 8:49 AM EDT

The clock is ticking for families with college age students to finish shopping since they head back to the classroom sooner than younger students..

But just like families with young children, college students and their parents are trimming budgets this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Their annual survey shows that college students and their families will spend about $837 on average. That will cover apparel, electronics, dorm furnishings and more. It's down $70, from $907 last year. Total spending for back-to-college is expected to reach $45.8 billion.

Researchers say those numbers are still higher than two years ago, even though parents are only buying what their college-age children truly "need."

Here's a look at the breakdown. The largest portion of the college shoppers' budgets, more than $200, will go toward electronics. Clothing is next at about $123. Dorm supplies and food each top $100. Then about $65 will go toward each category of shoes, personal care and school supplies.

When it comes to college spending, Dad seems to splurge more than Mom on college-age kids. Researchers say Dads spend 34% more.