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Back-to-school - statistics & facts

As students in the United States brace themselves to say goodbye to their summer freedom and head back to school, parents are bracing themselves to say goodbye to their paycheck. During 2021’s back-to-school shopping season, which typically takes place in the summer and early autumn, American parents, guardians, and children were planning to spend an estimated total of 37 billion U.S. dollars. In other words, back-to-school expenditures were expected to be higher than ever, when compared to the previous 15 years. This would equate to roughly 850 U.S. dollars in school supply expenses per American household.

What are parents buying?

Some of the most common educational necessities bought by guardians of school children include clothing and accessories, as well as school supplies, such as books, pens, backpacks, and more. This season, however, many were planning to spend the most on electronics: on average, parents in the United States expected to pay just under 300 U.S. dollars for such computer-related equipment. A fair share of back-to-school shoppers also purchased preconfigured supply kits provided by their children’s school. When asked why they bought such kits, several shoppers stated that it was mandatory and cost-effective, but the leading reason for parents was simply that it was convenient.

What about the kids?

Although parents tend to be the ones acquiring school supplies for their children during the back-to-school season, there are pre-teens and teenagers in the United States that spend some of their own money on supplies too. Specifically, pre-teens planned to spend an average of 40 U.S. dollars, while teenagers expected to pay just over 45 U.S. dollars out of pocket for school items. Even if students are not buying the supplies themselves, they typically have a major influence on what their parents or guardians buy for them. For clothing and accessories, for instance, about four in five parents stated that the final purchasing decision was moderately to highly influenced by their children’s wishes.

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