Sending the kids back to school is an exciting time, but it can be overwhelming throughout the entire fall season. If only it were as simple as packing their lunches and sending them on their way, or dropping them off at the dorms. You don’t just have to get them there—you also have to make sure they’re adequately prepared with everything they need to take on the new school year or semester.

Back-to-school spending is something that virtually every family has to incorporate into their budget. Read on to get a picture of how others planned to do their back-to-school spending in 2017, including a breakdown of what they’re stocking up on, and to get tips on how you can save during your own shopping sprees.

2017 Back to School Spending Breakdown

Heading away or returning to college isn’t just a big step forward into adulthood. The move itself can also be a big expense. Because college students are most often living away from home, it’s not uncommon for students’ parents to stock up on snacks and food, dorm or apartment furnishings, and personal care items. Account for these expenses and it’s no surprise that, on average, families were projected to spend nearly $300 dollars more on each college student’s supplies than on a K-12 student in 2017.

But the shorter list of needs for K-12 students doesn’t mean that back-to-school spending is short on costs. On average, families spend nearly $100 dollars more on clothing per K-12 student versus college kids. Families planned to spend an additional 10% on clothing this year, which may account for some of that difference.

Changing habits

2017 Back to School Shopping Habits


While the majority of back-to-school shoppers are still heading into physical locations to get their goods (as opposed to buying online), the particular places they go are changing. The same survey from Deloitte found that, in 2017, 24% more shoppers planned to visit mass merchants at some point, adding up to a total of 81% of those surveyed. Meanwhile, only 33% and 28% planned to visit office supply stores and traditional department stores, respectively.

Even if consumers plan to head into a physical storefront to get their supplies, the online environment is influencing their ultimate choices. 61% of those surveyed said they researched prices online before buying them in a store. This statistic points to shoppers’ desire to find savings on their back-to-school spending, just as nearly two-thirds of shoppers planned to shop throughout the summer to take advantage of deals.

Luckily, though, there are a number of ways to save while you’re stocking up on school supplies, textbooks and more. Use these budgeting tips to accomplish your back-to-school spending without breaking the bank.


With the right mix of awareness and planning, you can help ensure that your back-to-school shopping doesn’t become too much of a burden.

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