How Much Will Americans Spend on Back-to-School Shopping?

How Much Will Americans Spend on Back-to-School Shopping? - GSP

The NRF (National Retail Federation) has been surveying American families back-to-school and back-to-college spending since 2003. This year’s survey1, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, predicts back-to-school consumer spending to reach $80.7 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,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay

Back to School Family Shopping

Back-to-School Expected Consumer Spending

Families with children in grammar school through high school plan on spending an average of nearly $697, up from $685 last year. And although per-household back-to-school spending is up, total spending is down. Families claim to have fewer children in grades K-12.

  • Spending is expected to total $26.2 billion, down from last year’s $27.5 billion.
  • 71 percent plan to shop at least three weeks before school starts
  • School supplies top the shopping list at 94 percent with clothing and accessories close behind at 92 percent
  • Men will spend an average of $790 and women will spend an average of $608
  • Northeastern shoppers will spend the most, averaging around $873, while shoppers in western states will spend the least, averaging about $627
  • Pre-teens will cough up about $26 each while teens will spend about $37
  • 53 percent of 2019 back-to-school shoppers are heading to department stores with discount stores following close behind at 50 percent
  • School supplies top the shopping list at 94 percent with clothing and accessory purchases close behind at 92 percent
  • Clothing and accessories top the list for K-12 families averaging at about $240 followed by electronics averaging at about $203

Back to School College Shopper

Back-to-College Expected Consumer Spending

Families with college students are expected to spend an average of close to $977. That’s up from $942 last year. However, overall spending is expected to hit $54.5 billion, down from $55.3 billion last year.

  • 61 percent plan to shop at least three weeks before school starts
  • Men will spend an average of $1,177 and women will spend an average of $786
  • Northeastern shoppers will spend the most, averaging $1,201, while shoppers in western states will spend the least, averaging $1,032
  • Freshman will cough up about $288 each while graduate students will spend about $207
  • 45 percent of 2019 back-to-college shoppers will shop online with department stores following behind at 39 percent
  • School supplies top the shopping list at 87 percent with clothing, accessories and personal care purchases close behind at 78 percent
  • Electronics spending tops the list for college shoppers at close to $235 along with clothing and accessories averaging at about $149

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1The survey of 7,660 consumers was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics between July 1-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.