Back to School

NRF has been conducting its annual Back-to-School and Back-to-College surveys since 2003 with Prosper Insights & Analytics to see how American families will shop for clothing, supplies and other items for the next school year.

Boy waits to get on school bus
August Back-to-school shopping update

In mid-August, consumers had completed just over half (54 percent) of their back-to-school shopping.

  • Nearly half (49 percent) of back-to-school shoppers say they plan to make their final purchase one to two weeks before the start of school.
  • Roughly three in 10 shoppers say back-to-school related coupons or in-store promotions will motivate them to shop at a specific retailer.
girl standing outside with a backpack and school books in her hands
Back-to-class spending expected to reach $80.7 billion

As students gear up to go back to school and college, families plan to spend more than ever on supplies ranging from pencils and backpacks to computers and dorm refrigerators.

  • Clothing and accessories will top K-12 families’ expenses at an average $239.82, followed by electronics at $203.44
  • College shoppers plan to spend the most on electronics ($234.69), followed by clothing and accessories ($148.54)
Record spending expected for 2019

Families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average $696.70. That’s up from $684.79 last year. 

Families with college students are expected to spend an average $976.78, which is up from last year’s $942.17. 

close up shot of school supplies
Back-to-Class Data Center

Want to know more about one of retail’s biggest events of the year? Check out NRF’s back-to-class data center for trends and spending patterns over time.

Sales and Back to School

What role do big sales events like Prime Day play in Back to School shopping? More than half of consumers plan their shopping around them.


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