Georgians may not be planning to spend as much as the national average on back-to-school shopping this year – but that doesn’t mean the supply run will be cheap.
According to a Deloitte Back-to-School survey, back-to-school season has become the second biggest shopping season of the year in the U.S. American households were expected to spend about $27.6 billion on clothes and supplies for the new school year in 2018.
In a Georgia Credit Union Affiliates survey featuring more than 2,000 respondents, about 900 Georgians reported they’d be back-to-school shopping for the 2019-2020 school year. Of those respondents, the majority – 43 percent – said they planned to spend between $100 and $300. Another 17 percent plan to spend between $300 and $400 and 14 percent said they’d spend more than$400.
That could mean the average Georgian’s back-to-school shopping trip isn’t quite as expensive as that of most Americans. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, the average U.S. household planned to spend $685 on back-to-school clothes and supplies in 2018.
Still, Georgians seem to be feeling increased pressures to spend before a new school season. In the GCUA survey, 88 percent of respondents agreed that parents are spending more on supplies for the classroom than in the past.
That’s not an unfair assessment. The National Retail Federation has been tracking the cost of back-to-school shopping since 2003.The data shows that 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.
According to the GCUA survey, 34 percent of respondents try to curtail back-to-school costs by shopping year-round for deals on clothing and supplies. Most respondents – 57 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.
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- 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 this year. 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 for back-to-school.
- 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.com (@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.
Haley Hudson, marketing manager at Kinetic Credit Union, said it’s not uncommon for their members to spend more than usual during thelate-summer and early fall months.
“People often forget to budget for all their summer activities,” Hudson said. “And back-to-school shopping needs to be included in that budget.”
In fact, Hudson said back-to-schools shopping should be carefully and thoughtfully considered in budgeting.
“Take some time this summer to reassess your financial picture,” she said. “Figure out what you really need for back to school and reconcile that shopping list with your budget. It’s important to realize that shopping for the new school season does not necessarily mean spending outside your means.”