Consumer spending during the crucial back-to-school season is expected to rise 1.4 percent this year, the NPD retail research group said on Monday.

A study by The NPD Group (search) showed that consumers plan to spend $372 per child this year, up from $367 last year.

The best-selling items are expected to be school supplies, apparel and footwear, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD.

"Denim will continue to be the staple item found in everyone's shopping bags," Cohen said in a statement. "With prices for electronics declining, consumers will get to spend a little more on apparel this year."

Retailers started promotions for the back-to-school season, the second-largest retail period of the year behind the November-December holiday sales season, in mid-July.

Despite the NPD forecast, which comes from a survey of 26,941 females and 8,272 males, many clothing retailers have reported disappointing results for the early back-to-school season.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF) posted second-quarter results that fell well short of Wall Street expectations and offered a surprisingly weak full-year forecast that helped send its shares down. Investors also have put pressure on shares of retailers like Urban Outfitters Inc., Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and Hot Topic.

NPD said that mass merchants such as Target Corp. (TGT) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) are consumers' top choice for back-to-school shopping. But Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, recently warned that steep oil prices were cutting into consumer spending and would hurt third-quarter profit.