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Hey there, fellow back-to-school shoppers! It’s that time of the year again when we trade in our beach towels for backpacks and prepare for the exciting return to classrooms and campuses. And let me tell you, this year’s back-to-school season is like no other! The National Retail Federation (NRF) has been keeping a close eye on our shopping habits since 2003, and the latest survey results are in – brace yourselves for some jaw-dropping numbers!

household spending in back to school

Let’s take a peek at the numbers to understand how this year stacks up against the past. Back in 2007, families were spending an average of $563 on back-to-school shopping. Fast forward to 2023, and we’ve reached a whole new level, hitting that $890 mark. The journey from $563 to $890 has been a rollercoaster ride of spending, but we’ve come a long way, my friends!

The Shopping Cart Shuffle

Now, let’s delve into the exciting stuff – what exactly are we spending our hard-earned dollars on? The NRF has done the legwork, and here’s the breakdown for 2023:

  • Electronics or computer-related equipment: The digital age is here to stay, and it’s no surprise that we’re investing heavily in gadgets and gizmos. A cool $325 is going into these tech essentials to support our academic journey.
  • Clothing and accessories (excluding shoes): We’ve got to look our best on that first day back, right? So, $257 is being allocated to clothes and accessories, ensuring we step into school with style.
  • Shoes: Hey, we’ve got to take care of our feet too! A sum of $166 is being set aside to treat ourselves to comfortable and trendy footwear.
  • School supplies: From pens and pencils to notebooks and planners, we’re gearing up with $140 worth of school supplies to ace our studies.

It is fascinating to observe the shifting trends in back-to-school spending over the years. From 2007 to 2019, clothing stood tall as the dominant category, adorning students with style and flair. However, the landscape underwent a significant transformation in 2020, and since then, electronics have assumed the mantle of top spending category. The allure of technological advancements has captured the hearts and wallets of students and families alike, marking a notable shift in the preferences and priorities of back-to-school shoppers. Embracing this digital era, we have seen electronics consistently emerge as the focal point of our back-to-school budgeting, leaving clothing to cede its longstanding reign.

Shopping Hotspots

Ah, the excitement of hitting the stores! But where are we heading to find the best back-to-school deals? Let’s take a look at our favorite shopping destinations:

back to school shopping
  • Online: With 55% of us turning to online stores, it’s clear that the convenience of shopping from our screens is hard to resist.
  • Department Store and Discount Store: Both share the second spot, with 45% of shoppers heading there for a wide range of supplies at competitive prices.
  • Clothing Store: Fashion-forward students are hitting the clothing stores, with 41% choosing to explore trendy outfits for the new school year.
  • Electronics Store: Unsurprisingly, 23% of us are making a beeline for electronics stores to grab the latest gadgets.
  • Office Supplies Store: For the dedicated scholars who love traditional shopping, 21% are heading straight to office supplies stores for their academic necessities.

But wait, there’s more! Let’s not overlook the gems tucked away in our neighborhoods. Some of us prefer the charm and uniqueness of local businesses, with 15% choosing to support small enterprises. And don’t forget the thrill of discovering hidden treasures at thrift stores and resale shops, where 7.5% of shoppers are hunting for unique finds. Not to mention those quick trips to the drug store and catalog shopping, each capturing 6% of the back-to-school crowd.

As we wrap up this insightful journey into the 2023 back-to-school spending trends, it’s essential to recognize that this article serves as part 2 of our previous piece, “The $41.5 Billion Back-to-School Economy.” While the prior installment delved into macroeconomic data, this sequel hones in on per household spending, providing a granular perspective on how American families are navigating the academic shopping landscape. By combining these two perspectives, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the transformative shifts in consumer behavior, marking an exciting era of innovation and financial decision-making for the back-to-school season.