The back-to-school season has traditionally been one of the biggest US shopping holidays of the year. This typically happens in the months of July to September, when parents across the country purchase supplies to prepare their kids for the new school year.

So how much do US consumers spend on shopping for back-to-school supplies?

According to the latest back-to-school statistics from the National Retail Federation, the total planned back-to-school spending for 2021 is $37.1 billion. This marks a year-over-year increase of 9.44 percent from 2020’s $33.9 billion, reaching a record high.

The back-to-school spending per household is also forecast to rise this year to $848.90 – approximately $100 more than in 2020. 

Despite some falls over the years, back-to-school spending trends show that expenditure has actually been increasing. In fact, 2021’s expected spending is more than double of what it was in 2007. 

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Back-to-School Spending: Top Categories

The top category parents are expected to spend on this year is electronics. At $295.65 per shopper, this is $21 more than what they forked out for electronics in 2020.

Breaking this category down further, nearly half (48.6 percent) of shoppers plan to purchase laptops, while one-third (31.6 percent) will be buying calculators.

Tablets, electronic accessories, and speakers make up the five biggest electronic purchases among parents shopping for back-to-school supplies.

  • Tablet: 30.7 percent
  • Accessories: 29.0 percent
  • Speakers: 22.3 percent

The second-largest spending category on back-to-school supplies is clothing at $254.46, which is around $19 more than the previous year. This is followed by $161.04 on shoes – approximately $12 more.

Shopping for Back to School: Top Destinations

In terms of where consumers are shopping for back-to-school supplies, the latest statistics show that top choices are online and department stores. As many as 48 percent of shoppers plan on purchasing back-to-school supplies from these two places.

That said, fewer consumers intend to do their back-to-school spending online this year than last year. In 2020, up to 55 percent of them did so through the internet.

Interestingly, 44 percent of back-to-school shoppers will be purchasing supplies from discount stores this year. This is followed by clothing stores with 41 percent and office supply stores with 27 percent.

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