Here’s how much you’re spending to send your kids back to school | The Numbers Racket

Nationally, back-to-school spending is expected to hit a record $37.1 billion

By: - August 30, 2021 6:30 am

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It’s that time of year again. Students are heading back to school and back to campus as the school year begins again for many of Pennsylvania’s students. 

The National Retail Federation, a retail industry trade association, is projecting increased spending among consumers as students make an in-person return to classrooms this fall. 

“We enter the new school year with plans to return to the classroom and retailers are prepared to help Americans find and purchase whatever they need to make this transition as seamless as possible,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a July statement. 

Back-to-School Spending by the Numbers

NRF is projecting that families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $848.90 on school items – an increase of $59 from last year. 

Nationally, back-to-school spending is expected to hit a record $37.1 billion, according to an NRF survey. The record-setting spending is up from $33.9 billion last year.

Back-to-College Spending by the Numbers

According to the NRF survey, college students and their families plan to spend an average of $1,200.32 on college and university expenses. 

This is an increase of $141 over 2020 numbers. 

Following virtual learning trends, respondents to the survey noted that $80 of this increase is due to increased spending on electronics as well as dorm furnishings. 

Nationally, back-to-college spending is expected to set another record - $71 billion - up from $67.7 billion in 2020. 

Here were the top three Categories of back-to-school spending:

  • Electronics, $295.65
  • Clothing, $253.46
  • Shoes, $161.04

The top three categories of back-to-college spending: 

  • Electronics, $306.41
  • Dorm/Apartment furnishings, $164.38
  • Clothing, $158.98


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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.