The Highs & Lows of
Back to School

Whether you’re of the mindset that kids should have some free-range time like latch-key kids of the 70s and 80s, prefer the hyper-scheduled summer of back-to-back enrichment camps and “edutainment” travel, or fall somewhere in between, there is still pressure for both parents and kids alike to make the most of summer vacation. Despite the budgetary hit that back to school shopping brings, most parents and kids are ready for the shift back to the routine that August brings (more likely happy to be reunited with their friends in the case of kids). In my household, the idea of returning to a regular weekly schedule instead of constantly changing camp options is welcome indeed. And for parents who maybe aren’t as excited about their little ones heading back to school as I am, you can always transform a piece of your child’s summer camp art into a statement jewelry piece.

This year, the estimate for K-12 and college spending is expected to reach $75.8 billion, an increase of almost $8 billion from last year. Although “needs-driven” vs discretionary spending, back to school shopping is the second biggest consumer spending season behind the winter holidays. Families with kids in the K-12 camp will spend over $600 between clothes, accessories, electronics, shoes, and of course, actual school supplies. Spending for college supplies edges up to almost $900, which can include larger items like dorm room furniture and mini-fridges. The ease of online shopping (and shipping in the case of out-of-town college students) has many consumers opting to purchase their student supplies via the internet, an increase of almost 30% from last year’s data. Apparel and electronics account for more spent per student that actual school supplies. Savvy shoppers can find additional savings by taking advantage of perks like free shipping, in-store pickup, and tax-free shopping weekends.

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