Back-to-School Spending to Average $716 This Year

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U.S. parents are expected to spend an average of $716 on back-to-school items this year, a 6% increase over 2016 spending of $675. The best deals will be available to parents who shop either very early or very late during the back-to-school season.

Spending on clothes is tabbed to rise 3% year over year to $216, with spending on smartphones and tablets rising 10% to $198. Spending on shoes will total $119, up 5%, with books and study aids accounting for $260 in spending and school supplies accounting for $97, up 5% year over year.

The data were collected and published Monday by brand loyalty research firm Brand Keys, based on survey results gathered between June 19 and August 11.

Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, said:

Smart, connected consumers … keep getting smarter. They are on to 21st century retail strategies and are taking more and more advantage of their knowledge.

Consumers have learned four things from retailers that specifically apply to back-to-school shopping:

  • Retailers have started marketing for occasions like back-to-school earlier and earlier.
  • Prices start at very low levels, increase over time, and then drop down to the lowest prices available.
  • Deals are always available if you look hard enough.
  • It makes sense to shop very early and then as late as possible.

Brand Keys noted that the early wave of shopping focuses on supplies and electronics, while the later spending predominantly focuses on clothes, shoes and books.

The top five retailers for early shoppers are Amazon, Walmart, Staples, Target and Apple/Best Buy. For the later shopping wave, parents turn to Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Nike and TJ Maxx/Macy’s.

While online and discount retailers are generally preferred by most parents, department stores and office supply stores have posted the biggest year-over-year sales increases, up 8% and 7%, respectively. Passikoff noted that department stores have offered lots of deals in an effort to win against online-only retailers.