America’s Back-To-College Shopping List

It’s back to school season. Where do U.S. college students spend their money in preparation for the new academic year? Here’s a rundown.


This is based on the 2018 edition of the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual Back-to-School/College Spending Survey. Let’s look at the survey’s highlights.

A prepared bunch

Have you done your back-to-college shopping already? Most likely. The survey shows that 89% of U.S. college shoppers already started their shopping as early as two months before classes start and a week before at the latest. A low 11% start during the week school starts or immediately after.

Digitally powered

Analytics predict that college students will be spending the most on electronics, with a staggering $229. With more professors preferring communication and distribution of resources online, it isn’t hard to see why.

A nice thing about this development is that students will also transition to using paperless notes, which are sustainable and collaboration-friendly. Speaking of which, here are some studying and note taking tools you shouldn’t forget to download in your new device.

Gone online

While 40% of the respondents said they will be going to the department store to shop, online shopping has taken over with 49%. The convenience of choosing your school stuff online is undeniable. You will be saving yourself from queues and long walks. Just make sure you buy from trusted sellers.

Never out of style

The survey revealed that college students also care about how they present themselves. Next to electronics, clothing and accessories are what college students spending the most on. On top of this, $53 was also expected to be dedicated on collegiate gear.

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A pricey affair

NRF estimates that U.S. college students will be spending a massive $55 billion for this back-to-college season. A typical household is expected to spend $942 for back-to-college shopping. That’s more than Mother’s Day, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and Father’s Day spending per household combined.

Remember, this is only back-to-college shopping. Putting in the other expenses during the academic year, college truly is a pricey affair.

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