Back-to-School 2023 by the Numbers

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Although Halloween treats are already appearing on MULO (multi-location) retail shelves, let’s not forget that back-to-school shopping is still in season.

Depending on where in the U.S. they live, students can return to academics as early as July these days. Although many schools still start after Labor Day, summer vacation ends early in many regions.

But whether kids start school in shorts or down jackets, parents can expect to spend more in 2023.

This year’s retail shopping “semester” is setting records, with an average spend per family of $890, according to Statista.

About 50 million students are enrolled in elementary and secondary schools and 19 million in post-secondary education.

Even if math was not your favorite subject, here are five statistics you might want to know to aid your planning for next year.

  1. Currently at $41B, the total spend for back-to-school and back-to-college is expected to hit a whopping $189.7B by 2028.
  2. Homeschooling (which is less expensive than sending a child to an out-of-home institution) is on the upswing, and now approximately 5 percent of kids ages 5 to 18 are being educated that way.
  3. Consumers chased deals this year, with many families starting their shopping early, spending 59 percent of budgets in July versus 53 percent last year.
  4. Clothing and electronics are mandatory for BTS (back-to-school) season, and Amazon saw a surge in these purchases on Amazon Prime Day, as budget-conscious parents bought these necessities for students.
  5. Sixty percent of shoppers for BTS season start with an online search, and 41 percent split their spending between physical and digital shopping, according to The Shelf.

As part of the online search process, consumers are seeking deals. Major media outlets fulfill that need with up-to-date listings of where to get the best BTS bargains.

Parents with serious economic challenges can even turn online to find sources of free school supplies. 

Just as concerns for mental health and the adoption of technology are impacting the business world, academic institutions are also emphasizing them. Gamification, AR/VR, and microlearning are among the trends that the educational community is seeing in today’s educational institutions.

After years of school supply shopping, how will this year’s graduates fare in the job market?

Optimism remains high, and 81 percent of 2023 college grads are confident they will find well-paying jobs. Despite tech industry layoffs, the job market is actually the strongest it has been in 70 years. 

Indeed ranked the “best” jobs for recent college grads (as well as positions that don’t require a degree).

After all, someone needs to pay for that $890 worth of school supplies ultimately!

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.