Back-to-School Shopping Trends and Savings Tips

­While Ohioans plan to spend less than the national average on back-to-school shopping, it doesn’t mean the annual supply run will be cheap. 

According to a Deloitte Back-to-School survey, the back-to-school season is the second biggest shopping season of the year in the U.S., said Mike Losneck, CEO of Eaton Family Credit Union. American households were expected to have spent about $27.6 billion on clothes and supplies for the new school year in 2018.

An Ohio Credit Union League 2019 consumer survey found 36 percent of Ohioans polled reported they’d be spending between $100 and $300 during their back-to-school shopping for the 2019-2020 school year. Another 14 percent said they plan to spend between $300 and $400 with another 14 percent said they’d spend more than $400.

“The average Ohioan’s back-to-school shopping trip isn’t quite as expensive as that of most Americans,” Losneck said, citing a survey from the National Retail Federation which found the average U.S. household planned to spend $685 on back-to-school clothes and supplies in 2018.

“Still, Ohioans seem to be feeling increased pressures to spend heftily before each new school season,” Losneck said.

The Credit Union League’s survey found 85 percent of respondents agreed parents are spending more on supplies for the classroom than in the past. The findings are in line with the National Retail Federation’s, which has been tracking the cost of back-to-school shopping since 2003.

Losneck said, “The Retail Federaion’s data shows 10 years ago, Americans were expected to spend about $17.4 billion on back-to-school shopping, that’s $10.2 billion less than they were expected to spend last year.”

Only 14 percent of respondents to the Ohio Credit Union League’s survey said they try to curtail back-to-school costs by shopping year-round for deals on clothing and supplies. Most respondents, 71 percent, said they try to find the best deals once they know what their children will need for the new year.

Nationally, 62 percent of parents plan to begin back-to-school shopping before August, according to the Deloitte survey. But the study also shows that planning ahead might not be the best strategy, as parents who begin shopping early tend to spend an average of $100 more than shoppers who get a later start.


The Ohio Credit Union League offered these tips to save money while back-to-school shopping:

  • Check your house before you shop. Before spending on new school supplies, search around your home for supplies left over from last year. Also, consider sorting through your children’s closets before purchasing back-to-school outfits. There may be no need to hit the department store if your child can still fit into most of his or her clothes from the previous school year.
  • Focus on big-ticket item savings first. Your child may require big-ticket items, such as electronics, for back to school. While it might be tempting to price-check every pencil case and glue stick on the list, you’ll save more money if you spend your time searching for the best deals on more expensive items.
  • Check out the dollar store. Consider purchasing general items – such as pencils, glue, and markers – at your local dollar store, rather than at a big box store. You’ll save a few extra bucks you could put toward new clothes or bigger ticket items.
  • Follow stores on social media. Many stores will send followers coupon links and advanced notice of sales via social media. MoneyCrashers suggests following these Twitter accounts for back-to-school savings: Amazon (@amazondeals), (@coupons), Staples (@Staples), Office Max (@OfficeMax), Target (@Target).
  • Avoid impulse buys. With your budget in mind, make a list of what you need for the new school year before hitting the shops. Explain to your kids the importance of sticking to the list and try to avoid purchasing items just because they’re considered “trendy” as they’ll likely also be more expensive. 

Dave Godek

Dave Godek, MBA

Business Development Manager

Eaton Family Credit Union

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 8:51 AM, 07.30.2019