Report: Back-to-school shoppers spend $673 on average

CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) — A new survey says the average American household with children will spend $673 on back-to-school supplies.

The National Retail Federation says nationally, the total economic impact of back-to-school shopping from pre-school kids to college students will top $75.8 billion this year, compared to $68 billion last year.

So what do Midstate shoppers make of that $673 figure?

“I think the national average is a little low,” jokes Rich Madeira of Mechanicsburg, who was shopping for his son, Evan, in Camp Hill on Monday evening. “We were probably close to that ($673) at the uniform store. Tonight, we just went into the mall and that was another $200, and we didn’t even buy shoes yet.”

Michelle Verbecken says she’s currently below the national average, but has likely exceeded it in previous years back-to-school shopping for her three children. “Tonight, we just have binders and a pencil pouch and some pencils.”

Verbecken admits items like shoes can easily put a budget over-the-top, admitting she has paid more than $100 for a pair of sneakers for one of her children, and “around $70 or $80 a pair” for her younger kids.

The NRF survey indicates that the bulk of modern back-to-school expenses are from clothing and electronics, such as laptops, tablets and smart phones. Shoes and school supplies such as pencils and notepads account for roughly one-sixth of a typical $673 budget.

“I spend more,” admits Jennifer Mark of Mechanicsburg. “With two kids, and sports and books and all the notebooks and things, I definitely, probably spend $700 or $800.”

According to the survey, about 60% of shoppers still purchase back-to-school supplies in a department store, while 46% says they’ll shop online. Only 11% of surveyed shoppers say they’d purchase back-to-school clothing or supplies at a thrift store.

“We don’t thrift,” admits Mark. “I donate to the thrift store, but I don’t really go there.”

As for who is picking up the tab for back-to-school supplies, the survey finds that parents are still most likely to do the bulk of buying, even for older children. According to NRF, teens are only likely to contribute an average of $33 towards their clothing and other gear.

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