According to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics, parents and college students are expected to wait for the best deals before they purchase supplies. Total spending for K-12 schools and college combined is projected to reach $82.8 billion, nearly as high as last year’s $83.6 billion.
Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average $684.79 each, compared with last year’s $687.72, for a total of $27.5 billion. That marks the third-highest total in the history of the survey following a peak of $30.3 billion in 2012 and last year’s $29.5 billion.
Young individuals heading to college—as well as college and graduate students—that will make purchases for themselves, plan to spend an average $942.17 each, down from last year’s $969.88, for a total of $55.3 billion. That’s an all-time high in the history of the survey, up from last year’s previous record of $54.1 billion.
According to the survey, back-to-school shoppers plan to spend the most on clothing ($236.90). In addition to apparel, shoppers also plan to spend $187.10 on electronics such as computers, calculators, or phones; $138.66 on shoes; and $122.13 on supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks, and lunchboxes.
College shoppers will spend the most on electronics ($229.21), as well as $153.32 on clothing and accessories; $109.29 on dorm or apartment furnishings; $102.82 on food; $83.41 on shoes; $78.70 on personal care items such as skin and hair care; $69.46 on school supplies such as notebooks and backpacks; $62.61 on gift cards; and $53.34 on collegiate branded gear.
The top destinations for consumers to shop for back-to-school items includes department stores (57 percent), online retailers (55 percent), discount stores (52 percent), clothing stores (51 percent), and office supply stores (35 percent).
Similarly, the most popular shopping destinations for back-to-college consumers are online retailers (49 percent), department stores (40 percent), discount stores (35 percent), office supply stores (31 percent), college bookstores (30 percent)
The survey also found that more consumers are starting early. Most back-to-school shoppers (77 percent) plan to start at least three weeks before school begins, up from last year’s 74 percent and 64 percent a decade ago. Additionally, 67 percent of college shoppers will start that early, the same as last year but up from 51 percent in 2008. That said, nearly nine out of 10 (89 percent) of back-to-school and college shoppers still have half or more of their purchases left to complete. Of these, more than half are still waiting for the best deals for the items on their lists.
The survey found teenagers will spend $35.60 of their own money on average for back-to-school, while pre-teens will spend $25.06.
The survey of 7,320 consumers asked about both back-to-school and back-to-college plans, and was conducted form June 29 to July 8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.