Hey, big spender! Time to splurge on back-to-school supplies. Whether you like it or not, the annual chorus of gimmes and got-a-haves are ka-chinging loud and clear.
Parents, if you’re dazed and confused and left financially bruised, you’re not alone. It’s a second Christmas for retailers – and often for kids too. Students may dread returning to school, but wish lists topped by high-priced clothing and electronics definitely help dull the pain.
The selection of cool and colourful is astounding, and so too what the average Canadian will shell out! School rules for retailers - Canadians can expect to spend an average of $428 on back to school stuff, up more than 18% from last year.
And, according to the BMO Back to School Survey, parents will be spending average of over $500 per child in post-secondary studies.
“The end of summer is an important time of the year for many businesses that sell back to school supplies. Many will see an increase in the number of shoppers and dollars spent during the season, leading to a positive impact on their bottom line,” said Mike Bonner, vice president of Commercial Banking at BMO Bank of Montreal.
Steve Matyas, president of Staples Canada, takes pride on getting an A+ when it comes to “a great assortment of the hottest new products and one-stop shopping.” “Back to school… is our biggest season of the year - it’s our Christmas,” he adds.
Eliminating the stress, getting good deals and making the most of every dollar top parents’ wish lists. According to the BMO survey, the majority of Canadians will make an effort to limit their back-to-school spending - 65% plan to look for deals and use coupons. Another 62% will be comparison shopping, 51% will be reusing supplies from last year, and just over half will be buying only what is essential.
Technology and clothing take a big bite out of back to school budgets followed by accessories including backpack and lunch bags. Necessary school supplies, including pens, paper, binders and notebooks, also take a toll. While the kids love the back-to-school shopping frenzy, according to personal finance expert Nathan Dungan, most parents loathe the outings because it’s usually a battle over needs versus wants.
And gimme gimme always gets: “Back to school shopping is the perfect storm of big money and non-stop advertising converging on kids and parents,” says Dungan, adding that kids are bombarded by 5000 images advertising impressions a day – almost all of them encouraging them to spend.
Parents and kids need to discuss the amount that both you and your child are willing to contribute to the back to school budget, says Dungan, and work with them to establish healthy boundaries between needs and wants.
“It’s important that your child make some contribution to the budget to ensure they are invested in the process,” he says, adding that gaps between a child’s wants and what you are willing to spend need to be discussed.
Meanwhile, put that money away – for now. Brian Pritchard, senior vice president of BDO Canada, advises holding off until the school bell rings. “By waiting until parents receive a supply list from the school will result in avoiding long line-ups, buying too much and saving time and money.”
Canadians expect to spend:
- $170 per child in kindergarten/elementary school
- $226 per child in junior/high school
- $572 per child in post-secondary/university
BMO Back to School Survey
Across the country spending:
- Quebecers ($501)
- Atlantic Canada ($450)
- Prairies ($450)
- Alberta ($431)
- B.C. ($403)
- Ontario ($390)