Back-to-school spending for children heading to kindergarten through grade 12 is expected to reach a high of $34.4 billion, according to the latest Deloitte back-to-school study, with spending on mental wellness forecast to grow 8%.
Half of respondents to this year’s study say they are concerned about their child’s mental health.
“Following the uncertain social landscape of the past several years, many K-12 parents are focused on their child’s overall mental wellness,” Deloitte said in its announcement. More than a third of shoppers (36%) have purchased products or services to address mental health in the past year.
Parents expect to spend about $661 per student this year.
Technology spending for this age group is expected to decline by 8% after a surge during the pandemic in which online learning was prominent. For college students, technology is still a significant buy with spending on these items expected to surge 22%.
Parents with college-age children expect to spend $28.3 billion this year, or about $1,600 per student, up 10% from last year.
With U.S. inflation climbing to a 41-year high of 9.1%, many parents expect to spend more simply due to higher prices.
“This may lead to trust and brand loyalty issues for retailers, as 64% of survey respondents believe retailers are profiting from inflation, while three-quarters will trade brands if prices are too high,” said Rod Sides, Deloitte Insights leader, in a statement sent to MarketWatch.
“There may be an opportunity for retailers to gain trust and loyalty with shoppers by messaging around their back-to-school prices, especially since many placed back-to-school orders before inflation became a big issue.”
A separate KPMG back-to-school study found that supply chain issues are also top-of-mind for parents, with nearly half (49%) of respondents to their survey at least moderately concerned about inventory shortages, and half of those respondents planning to start their shopping earlier to try and avoid any problems.
“Families consider back-to-school and college items as an essential category, and they are taking whatever steps they can, including cutting back on discretionary spending, shopping sales and buying store- or off-brand items, in order to purchase what they need for the upcoming school year,” said Matthew Shay, chief executive of the National Retail Federation in a statement.
The NRF expects total back-to-school spending to reach $37 billion, in line with last year, and back-to-college spending total $74 billion, surpassing last year’s record.