Families are planning record spending on school supplies for kindergarten through 12th grade and college-age students this year, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics.
Families with children in elementary school through high school look to spend an average of $696.70, up from $684.79 last year. This beats the previous record of $687.72 set in 2017.
However, with fewer families surveyed saying they have children in grades kindergarten through 12, spending is expected to total $26.2 billion, down from last year’s $27.5 billion despite the increase in per-household spending.
Those families with college-age students are expected to spend an average of $976.78, which is up from last year’s $942.17, and tops the previous record of $969.88 set in 2017. With fewer survey respondents saying they are attending college, spending is expected to total $54.5 billion, down from last year’s record of $55.3 billion.
“Consumers are in a strong position given the nation’s growing economy, and we see this reflected in what they say they will spend on back-to-class items this year,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of NRF. “We’re expecting record spending and retailers are ready to provide students with all the items they need for a successful school year.”
Clothing and accessories were found to top K through 12 families’ expenses at an average of $239.82, followed by electronics such as computers, calculators and phones, $203.44; shoes, $135.96, and supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunch boxes, $117.49, according to the survey.
K through 12 families plan to do most of their shopping at department stores, 53 percent; discount stores, 50 percent; online, 49 percent; clothing stores, 45 percent, and office supply stores, 31 percent.
Among K through 12 shoppers, teens are expected to spend an average $36.71 of their own money, up from $30.88 10 years ago, while preteens should spend $26.40, up from $11.94 10 years ago.
“Members of Generation Z are clearly becoming more involved with back-to-school purchasing decisions rather than leaving the choices up to mom and dad,” said Shay. “Over the years, both teens and preteens are spending more of their own money on back-to-school items.”
College shoppers plan to spend the most on electronics at $234.69, followed by clothing and accessories, $148.54; dorm and apartment furnishings, $120.19, and food items, $98.72, according to the survey. Forty-five percent plan to do most of their shopping online, followed by department stores, 39 percent; discount stores, 36 percent; college bookstores, 32 percent, and office supply stores, 29 percent.
College-age students are also spending more money on clothing and accessories with their college or university logo. Spending on college-branded items is expected to average $62.22, up 17 from a year ago. “College shoppers are really showing their school spirit when it comes to buying collegiate gear this year,” said Shay.
For online purchases, 90 percent of K through 12 and 85 percent of college shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping.
“Back-to-class shoppers still have the bulk of their shopping to do and are waiting to see what the best deals and promotions will be at a variety of different retailers,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy at Prosper Insights. The survey found that 89 percent of both K through 12 and college shoppers still had half or more of their purchases left to complete. Of those, 49 percent were waiting for the best deals for items on their shopping lists.
The survey of 7,660 consumers was conducted July 1 to 8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.