Record: back-to-school spending projected to soar to $41.5 billion in 2023

Household spending on back-to-school purchases is the highest since 2007. The increase is due in part to higher demand for electronics.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects Americans to spend about $41.5 billion on back-to-school purchases this year. The figure represents an increase of more than $3 billion over 2022 ($36.9 billion) and is the highest since the survey began keeping data in 2007.

The study revealed that the average expenditure on the purchase of school supplies for children in elementary and high school will be around $890 per household. This figure is about $25 more than last year ($864).

Among the main reasons for the increase in spending is inflation as well as a large increase (69%) in demand for electronic items. The most popular products are: computers (51%), tablets (36%) and calculators (29%). It is estimated that the purchase of computer equipment this year will reach a record $15.2 billion, the highest in the history of the survey.

Spending for higher education

Spending on purchases of higher education materials is also estimated to soar to $94 billion, $20 billion more than last year.

According to the study, college students and their families will shell out an average of $1,366 per student (up from $1,199 spent in 2022). This figure exceeds the previous record from 2019, when spending hovered around $1,200.

Forty-three percent of university students said that the increase in spending is due in part to "needing more new items," while 32% attributed it to "the need for expensive items," such as electronics, cell phones, housing and food, among others.

Prosper's Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist indicated that consumer behavior this year is particular in that, while they plan to buy more and have higher budgets, they are still looking for the best deals:

Even though consumers plan to spend more on school and college-related items this year, they are still looking to find the best value and deals. ... Consumers are stretching their dollars by comparing prices, considering off-brand or store-brand items, and are more likely to shop at discount stores than last year.