As the calendar turns to August, many families are preparing to send their children off to school or back to college. And they’re spending more money than ever to do so.
For the second consecutive year, consumers are expected to spend a record amount to get their kids equipped for school or college. According to the annual survey of back-to-class shopping by the National Retail Federation, released in July, elementary and high school households are projected to spend an average of $848 on school items while college student households plan to drop just over $1,200, on average. Both marks top the record set in 2020, as does total spending, $37 billion for back-to-school, $71 billion for back-to-college households in the U.S.
Electronics make up the largest spending line-item across the board in the survey, with elementary and high school households expected to spend a total of $13 billion and college student families spending $18 billion, the latter being almost double the amount spent on clothes, the second-most-purchased item.
Deloitte LLP., in a separate retail forecast also released in July, identified other trends in the back-to-class shopping season. For instance, nearly 60 percent of shoppers plan to complete their shopping by the end of July, nearly 15 percent higher than last year, due to concerns over availability of inventory due to supply chain issues.
And, almost half of those polled said they were spending less on traditional school supplies in anticipation of continued distance learning and higher use of digital technologies both inside and outside the physical classroom. This pushed Deloitte’s spending projections for 2021 back-to-class technology to a whopping 37 percent over last year.
As for the must-have items for the new school year, the most obvious is a computer, either a laptop or a desktop. PC Magazine has the following recommendations when purchasing computer equipment to be used primarily by students:
- Check with your school for recommended models, specific requirements and potential discounts, particularly for college students.
- Invest in a spill-resistant keyboard for younger students.
- A larger, full HD laptop screen will be easier on your kids’ eyes; look for models with at least 1080p resolution.
- Short on space? Consider a mini PC or all-in-one desktop model.
- Shopping for refurbished PCs can save serious money, especially with name-brand business models. Just be sure to double-check the condition and the warranty first, and look for an SSD as the boot drive.
- Keep in mind, families who qualify for the Emergency Broadband Benefit can also get a $100 discount on a tablet through Kinetic. Find out if you qualify for that as well as up to $50 monthly credit on home internet service.
Other recommended tech gadgets include back up storage, upgraded wi-fi router to manage multiple students online at once, noise-cancelling headphones to allow kids to focus on distance classes without distraction and a backup power sources should the lights go out when the term paper is due.
And of course, make sure the home internet service is robust enough to manage both kids’ and adults’ digital demands when working and learning from home.