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BACK TO SCHOOL: School supplies by the numbers

By: Katie Ward Beim-Esche


The average American family with children in grades K-12 will spend nearly $674 on back-to-school gear this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s [NRF] 2016 Back-to-School Survey. This amount is up from $630 last year.

Nearly two-thirds of that goes toward apparel and electronics. According to the NRF, shoppers will spend an average of:

  • $235.39 on clothing and accessories
  • $204.06 on electronics
  • $126.56 on shoes
  • $107.76 on school supplies

Students are contributing more of their own money. The average teenager will contribute $33, and the average pre-teen plans to spend $20.

According to NRF President Matthew Shay, shopping “early and often” is an ever-increasing trend for budget-conscious consumers.

Of the more than 6,000 shoppers surveyed, 73 percent will shop a month or two before school starts. Twenty-two percent will wait until just a week or two before school.

Teachers feel the financial strain as well. The Education Market Association [EMA] says that as costs shift away from cash-strapped school districts, virtually all teachers have to pay for classroom supplies out of pocket.

The EMA estimates that most teachers spent nearly $500 of their own money in 2015, and 10 percent of teachers spent over $1,000. If school supply lists include paper towels, cleaning supplies or copier paper, that may be why.

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