Like many families, ours has been busy with back to school prep and school shopping over the last couple weekends. We mostly bought clothes, supplies, and notebooks. My kids said they didn’t need much this year, so I guess we got off cheap.

Apparently, and statistically, our spending for our incoming senior is much less than others. Total back to school spending this year is expected to reach $27.8 billion, which breaks down to $519 per student, according to the Back-to-School Survey from Deloitte, a professional services company. I didn’t spend anywhere close to that, but I feel confident this doesn’t put my high school student at a disadvantage.

Part of the reason for not shelling out the national average is due to my kids already having the big ticket items other parents are now buying. They have smartphones and calculators. My older son has a laptop for college, and my younger son benefits from the MacBook he gets from the school district for the year.

While Deloitte reports only a slight uptick in overall spending from 2018, when parents forked over $510 per student, spending on electronics and gadgets like mobile phones and tablets jumped 29%, or an additional $800 million, since last year. Parents who buy electronics are spending an average of $305 per student on them, according to Deloitte. This makes up for personal computer spending for back to school, which is down 49% from last year.

Another big spend category is clothing and accessories, which racks up a combined $15 billion for kids going back to school, Deloitte says. This is a need that impacts almost every family, with 97% of back to school shoppers buying clothes or accessories.

I guess I’m not alone in looking for a bargain when shopping. Deloitte notes that sales and discounts are the top two considerations when parents are deciding where to shop. Our family is also in good company when it comes to who drives the purchasing decisions for school items. Kids are responsible for influencing about 70% of purchases, with students having the most say on clothing and accessories.

On the volunteering side, Deloitte points out that three in 10 shoppers plan to donate an average of $50 for school supplies for others.

If, like me, you think the spending on back to school items seems excessive, then spending per college student might cause even more sticker shock. Deloitte reports the average back-to-college shopper will spend $1,362 per student. Again, this is substantially higher than what we spent for our college student.

The silver lining in this high-dollar spending is that Deloitte says at least half of annual school-related purchases take place in the weeks right before school starts. That means, theoretically, you won’t spend as much money on school items until this time next year.

Brett Martin is a community columnist who’s been a Shakopee resident for over 15 years.


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