Kids are expensive. This bit of conventional wisdom is perhaps never more evident than at back-to-school time. To spread out the rising cost of school necessities, many parents begin their shopping a month or two in advance. So, parents – ready, start, shop.
The National Retail Federation (NFR) polled 8,509 consumers about their projected back-to-school spending between July 2- 9, 2012. With an estimated combined college and K-12 total spending of $83.3 billion nationwide, back-to-school is the second most profitable retail period after the winter holidays. The study indicated that the average person with children in grades K-12 will spend $688.62 on their children, up from $603.63 last year. The survey did not specify how many children are in “average family.”
“Backpacks rip, pencils break, and children grow, there’s no way around it, but as they begin tackling their shopping lists, parents will make sure to spend smarter than they ever have before,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. “We fully expect retailers to be aggressive with their promotions both in-store and online, keeping an eye on inventory levels as families look to spread out their shopping throughout the entire summer.”
To break it down, NRF says parents with K-12 children will spend:
- $246.10 on clothes
- $217.88 on electronics
- $129.20 on shoes
- $95.44 on school supplies
Parents with college-aged children will spend an average of more than $900 including:
- $132 on apparel and accessories
- $75.81 on shoes
- $216.40 on electronics, but college freshmen will spend an average of $262.58
- $100.27 on dorm furnishings
- $100.18 on food items
- $81.76 on personal care items
- $75.73 on school supplies – not including text books
- $52.87 on collegiate branded gear
- $71 on gift or pre-paid cards
To make a dent in these expenses, consumers are beginning their shopping at least a month or two in advance, and many families have already begun budgeting for back-to-school. The economy has impacted how and where consumer shop, with many families scouring for sales, free shipping online deals, discount stores, and thrift stores.
School-aged children are also doing their part to chip in on back-to-school costs, using their allowance or summer job earnings. The average 13-17year-old will spend $36.48, whereas 6-12 year-olds will contribute on average $25.63 for their lists.
Who spends the most? The first year of college is has the highest sticker shock, with college freshmen and their parents spending an average of $929.35. Graduate students will spend $879.89, followed by sophomores ($812.97), juniors ($767.41) and seniors ($680.70).
Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion on Twitter @emarrion_cmn.