Back-to-school shopping is projected to top pre-pandemic levels and reach a record-breaking $108 billion as an increasing number of students and families prepare for in-person instruction this fall, according to the nation’s largest retail trade group.
Total spending for school-aged children alone, which excludes college students, is expected to hit an all-time high of $37.1 billion this fall, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics July 2021 Consumer Survey.
This surpasses the $33.9 billion spent in 2020 when parents rushed to buy the necessary supplies to help their children set up workstations at home, according to data from the retail trade group.
On average, families with school-aged children plan to dole out $848.90 for supplies this season, according to the NRF.
Meanwhile, college students and their families are projected to spend an average of $1,200.32 on supplies, which is about $141 more than last year, according to the NRF's data.
In total, back-to-college spending is projected to reach a record $71 billion, an increase from the $67.7 billion spent in 2020.
The back-to-school shopping season is seen as an important time for retailers ahead of the bustling holiday season. And although the summer season is in its infancy, more than 50% of students and their families have already started gearing up for the new school year with in-person instruction.
In fact, according to the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics’ annual June survey, 64% of back-to-school shoppers expect schools to be in-person after a prolonged period of Zoom learning. This means shoppers won't only be eyeing new materials – but potentially a new wardrobe as well.
However, not all back-to-school shoppers have been able to get a head start. More than 75% of shoppers are still waiting to get school supply lists for the 2021-2022 school year. For now, those families and students have purchased 18% of the total items they will probably need, according to data from the NRF.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.