Survey shows back-to-school spending up 8% from 2021

DEDHAM, Mass.—Parents are going to spend an average of $41 more per child this school year, according to a new back-to-school survey from business research company Deloitte.

The company surveyed 1,200 parents between May 20 and June 2 and found families expect to pay $661 per child on back-to-school items, an 8 percent increase from 2021 and 27 percent increase from 2019.

Inflation is the driving force behind the increased spending, according to parents. 57 percent of respondents said they’re concerned about inflation on back-to-school prices.

“What we’re seeing this year is a backdrop of increased concern in the economy,” Deloitte partner Rebecca Chasen said. “There’s an increase in spend[ing] because a good portion of people expect prices to increase due to general inflation that they’re seeing and all goods they’re buying.”

Deloitte’s survey also revealed an interesting response about brand loyalty: 77 percent of respondents said they would switch brands if prices are too high. More parents are also keeping their kids home this school year; Deloitte found homeschooling is up 8 percent from 2021. Homeschoolers are likely to spend 15 percent less than the average back-to-school shopper, the company said.

“I definitely think clothes, food, groceries, lunch, everything costs more this year, for sure,” said Dedham mom Julie Gullage. Her son is entering eighth grade at Dedham Middle School.

“My son plays soccer so it’s expensive. Just thinking about sports, I mean cleats are $60 to $100, a ball is $40 or $50, it’s crazy,” Gullage said.

Westwood mom Linda Brent has two kids going back to school. She said she routinely shops on Facebook Marketplace to save money.

“They grow out of [things] so fast,” Brent said. “It’s so much cheaper than going into the stores and buying everything brand new.”

According to Deloitte, 57 percent of Massachusetts shoppers expect the economy to weaken in the next six months. About a third expect to spend more on back to school compared to 2021.

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