Back-to-school spending on the rise

More parents are going digital to avoid lineups, but still look in-store for sales, according to a pair of surveys.

In less than a month, the kids will be back in the classroom. Until then, many parents will be stressing out about back-to-school expenses, with spending rising in Canada according to two recent surveys.

Online cash-back shopping service’s online poll in July found parents would spend between $100 and $200 per child to get them ready for a new school year. This led to 40% of them feeling stressed out about the expenses (though 50% of those polled expressed excitement at the idea of getting back to a routine).

Another July survey from digital savings company RetailMeNot found parents bracing themselves to spend an average of $472 on their child (compared to $329 last year). More than nine in 10 agreed that back-to-school shopping was a financial burden and that it’s becoming more expensive. University students were the most expensive to shop for, the survey showed, with those parents expecting to spend $1,630, compared to $412 for high school students and $318 for elementary.

While clothing and supplies will make up a big portion of purchases this year, the survey found that more money is being spent on electronics, with tablets beating computers as the more popular item purchased for back-to-school (27% versus 21%).

Canadians also intend to be value-driven, with 77% saying they research online for the best deals and lowest prices. And that’s also where they’ll be making some of their purchases, with 80% saying they’ll be shopping online, which is up 30% compared to last year, according to Those polled cite “no lineups” as one reason more of them plan to shop online.

The RetailMeNot survey found only 49% look for online deals, while 68% said they look in-store for sales.

That poll showed textbooks represented the largest expense, with an average expected spend of $328, though only 44% of parents planned to purchase them. Clothing was the most common expected purchase, at 80%, with an average expected spend of $187, followed by 75% planning to buy shoes at an expected $92.

The Ebates Canada survey polled 2,610 Canadians from across the country, using an online tool during the month of July. RetailMeNot surveyed 1,506 randomly selected Canadian adults (who are Angus Reid Forum panelists) online on July 13 and 14.

With files from Mark Burgess

Featured image courtesy Shutterstock