How Much Parents Will Spend on Back-to-School Shopping This Year

Back to school concept, mother or parent and little girl kid buying school satchel or bag in store, Selective focus.
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This back-to-school season, GOBankingRates wants to help parents, students and teachers find the best deals on the products they need. From school supply lists with over 50 items to your child needing a brand new wardrobe, back-to-school shopping can quickly become expensive and out of budget.

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To help you prepare and avoid exceeding your shopping budget, GOBankingRates has compiled data from the National Retail Federation’s Back-to-School Consumer Spending Plans for 2022 to share how much parents should expect to spend. We will also shed light on how parents can cut back on spending, and what categories parents can save on — as well as where they should.

Expected Back-to-School Spending for 2022

The anticipated spending for households in 2022 is higher than ever before with expected total spending on school supplies per household falling at $864, according to the NRF report.

Rising inflation is impacting back-to-school expenditures this year. In the report, the NRF analyzed price increases by category versus growth in back-to-school spending. According to the report, there was a 2.2% growth in the prices of electronic items, and parents will likely spend $293.05 on these items this year. When looking at clothing and accessories (excluding shoes) there was a 2.9% increase in prices for girl’s apparel and a 3.4% increase for boy’s apparel, with expected spending in this category falling at $263.63. Be prepared to spend a little more on shoes this year as well, as boys’ and girls’ footwear experienced a 9.9% increase in prices with anticipated spending on footwear landing at $168.11.

Make Your Money Work for You

School supplies saw the most dramatic inflation effects with a 21.8% growth in prices. Make sure to budget thoughtfully for this category, as anticipated spending in this area is higher than last year at $139.56.

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38% of Americans Are Covering the Cost of Back-to-School Shopping by Cutting Back in Other Areas

Higher prices this school year mean more families and students are making changes to accommodate for the back-to-school dent their wallets will be experiencing.

According to the NRF report, 38% of shoppers are cutting back in other areas in order to cover the cost of back-to-school shopping this year. Additionally, 18% of shoppers are working overtime or taking on additional hours, 17% are using buy now, pay later payment methods and 14% are taking out additional credit cards. Finally, 12% of shoppers are borrowing money or going into debt to buy the items they need for school.

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How To Save on Back-to-School Shopping

To avoid going into debt or overworking yourself this fall, let’s take a look at some simple and effective ways to save on supplies.

Only Splurge on Long-Lasting Items

While it’s definitely best to avoid buying the most expensive glue sticks and pencils, it’s well worth your wallet to splurge on the items that will last longer and are most important to buy high-quality. When buying a new laptop, backpack or graphing calculator, you should prioritize brands and styles that will last. These items will get years of use and are well worth the higher price point.

When budgeting for back-to-school items, be sure to take inventory of the select items you want to splurge on and opt for the cheapest, store-brand items for all your other supplies.

Buy on Sale

Before heading to the store to purchase what you need, check online to determine what sales are going on at different stores and shop around to get the lowest prices on the items you need. One of the worst mistakes you can make during back-to-school shopping is doing all your shopping in one trip at one store. While you might find a few sales, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to save big by shopping around and finding the best deals.

Make Your Money Work for You

Buy in Bulk

If you’re in need of 10 notebooks and 20 folders this year, consider buying items in bulk. You could also find a few other students or parents in need of school supplies and do one big purchase so you can all enjoy more savings.

Buy Items Secondhand

A great way to avoid going over budget or going into debt when purchasing school supplies is by buying items secondhand. Before buying you or your child a complete wardrobe revamp at the mall, consider shopping at your local thrift store or online thrifting sites instead. This is a great way to find fantastic deals on gently used clothes, textbooks and even calculators and electronics.

For college students requiring furniture for their new apartment or dorm, check out Facebook Marketplace and local garage sales to scout out discounted furniture items at a cheaper price point.

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About the Author

Maddie Duley is a content intern for ConsumerTrack writing about finances for GOBankingRates. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in communication and design from the University of California Davis.
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