Back-To-School Spending Expected to Increase

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Back-To-School Spending Expected to Increase


The critical back-to-school is about to heat up, and retailers can expect a modest 2% increase in sales.

The 2019 Brand Keys Back-to-School (B2S) survey for pre-school through 12th grade student households found parents plan to spend only slightly more this year but intend to spend it much earlier than in previous years. 

Brand Key surveyed approximately 8,000 households with school-age children, drawn from the nine U.S. Census regions, with interviews conducted in June and July. Consumers indicated a planned 2% increase in back-to-school spending, with an average spend of $745 (versus $730 in 2018) per family, according to the 25th annual survey conducted by Brand Keys, the New York-based brand loyalty and emotional engagement research consultancy.

Anticipated Spending

Clothing: $225
Shoes: $124
Supplies: $110
Electronics: $225
Books/Study Aids: $50


Where Consumers Shop

Online: 99%
Discount Stores: 99%
Department Stores: 85%
Specialty Retailers: 60%
Office Supply: 50%
Drug Stores: 19%
Catalogs: 4%

Who’s Spending the Most?

Northeast: $835.80
West: $742.56
Midwest: $714.81
South: $686.83

The back-to-school marketing blitz has been coming earlier every year, “but 2019 B2S buying has been ratcheted up by Black Friday and doorbuster-like promotions that started in June,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys. “Combine that with successfully contrived shopping holidays, like Amazon’s Prime Days and B2S shopping patterns have shifted dramatically. We’ve tracked this paradigm for the past decade; more connected shoppers, seeking more values, get better offers from retailers and, thus, shop earlier.”

Back-to-school consumers shop in waves: 60% have already shopped (June and July, + 21% YOY) and 40% are planning to wait until August, just before school starts, hoping for clearance pricing.

Average anticipated spending in all major back-to-school categories were virtually unchanged from a year ago,” said Passikoff. “Increases over last year are accounted for by cost-of-living increases we would normally expect to see.