Back-to-School & Labor Day Survey

Back-to-School & Labor Day Survey

After a season of splashing in the pool, riding bikes, and taking beach vacations with the family, summer fun is coming to an end. Now that August is upon us, many families are getting ready to head back to school for the year. To set students up for a successful year, parents are heading to the store to stock up on pens, pencils, clothing, and other school essentials. At, we commissioned a survey to find out just what parents are buying, where they are shopping, and how much they are spending this year. Check out the results of our Back-to-School & Labor Day Survey below.

Back-to-School Shopping Statistics

Back-to-school shopping is a tradition in many families. Every year, children and parents alike head off to the store to hunt down the latest fashions, shoes, backpacks, and school supplies. We surveyed over 2,000 American parents and discovered that 99.3% of the K - 12 parents surveyed plan to do some kind of back-to-school shopping. K - 12 parents are predicted to spend an average of $221.24 per child this year. Depending on the size of your family, that can really add up!

Parents of eleventh graders are likely to spend even more this year. According to our survey results, parents of students in this age group expect to spend an average of $272.82 per child. Next are parents of seventh graders, who are predicted to spend an average of $262.78 per child. Parents of tenth graders expect to shell out the third most, reporting to spending an average of $248.43 per child.

On the other hand, third graders are expected to be the least expensive to shop for. Our survey results found parents of third graders expect to spend an average of $198.62 per child this year. Third grade spending is followed by first grade spending ( $203.96 per child) and kindergarten spending ($206.49 per child).

Spending by grade

How Do Parents Save on Back to School Shopping?

Our survey discovered that parents are using online coupons the most when it comes to cutting back-to-school spending costs. 38% of parents say they use online coupons when shopping for school supplies. Other popular savings techniques included shopping with print coupons (35.6%) and reusing last year’s supplies (10.4%).

How do parents save

When is the most popular time to buy school supplies?

As many savvy shoppers know, you can often find the best deals at the “worst” times to buy certain items. For example, you can save big on a kayak if you buy at the end of summer rather than the beginning or score a great deal on a winter coat in April.

However, school supplies tend to be an exception to this conventional shopping wisdom. Because retailers only stock a select number of items throughout the year and the time period of buying school supplies is much shorter than a full season, shoppers can almost always find good deals on a variety of school products during the back-to-school window. August was ranked the most popular month to buy school supplies for shoppers, with 55.4% of parents saying that’s when they shop.

Tip: Try shopping your state’s tax-free weekend to bundle your savings this year.

Most popular shopping month

The Most Popular Back-to-School Store

Walmart reigns supreme as the favorite shopping destination for back-to-school goodies. Parents often prefer the mega retailer for its history of low prices and vast selection. Walmart gives the chance for shoppers and their children to go in and pick their items out in person. Coming in after Walmart for top back-to-school shopping destinations were Target (26%), Amazon (19%), dollar stores (6%), Staples (3%), and Kohls (3%), among others.

How do parents save

Most Popular Back-To-School Items to Buy

There’s no surprises when it comes to the most popular purchases when it comes to getting ready for school. Staples like clothing, pens, pencils, and notebooks top the charts, with over 70% of parents reporting they will be buying each of those items this year. On the other end of the scale, computers, smartphones and other electronics will be the least bought items, our survey suggests.

Most popular item

Other Back-to-School Statistics

Summertime can be a challenging time for parents who are juggling work and family life while kids are out of school. While many enjoy the extra time with their kids during the summer, plenty of parents are more than ready for them to go back to school when it’s over. When we asked parents if they were looking forward to their kids going back to school, 80.1% of those parents agreed (39.2%) or strongly agreed (40.9%). When we asked parents if their kids were looking forward to going back to school, 69.8% agreed.

Eighty point one percent of parents

Are Children Scared at School?

In the wake of violence and shootings around the country, we wanted to find out if families are worried about safety in school this year. When asked if their children ever worry about their own safety when they are in school, 36.4% of parents said “yes”. Parents of eighth graders are the most likely to have a worried child, with 49% responding “yes”. Eleventh (48%) and twelvth (46%) graders followed.

Are children scared at school


Teaching is a notoriously tough job, and one that often comes with low pay and limited resources. The majority of teachers (81.5%) provide parents with a back-to-school shopping list to assist in the guidance of what to buy. Our study also found that 72.7% of teachers ask for supplies for the classroom. However, a whopping 41% of parents don’t help the classroom when teachers ask, even though 78% of that same group believes teachers are underpaid. Overall, we found that 77.5% of all parents believe teachers are underpaid.

Seventy seven point five percent of parents

Labor Day Travel Statistics

In most states, the Labor Day holiday falls either shortly before or shortly after school starts. This year, Labor Day falls on September 2. Many parents take advantage of Labor Day Weekend to travel with their children. Our survey found that 77.3% of parents are planning to travel with their children this Labor Day holiday. Of those traveling, the average travel time is expected to be 2.35 days. Due to the short nature of this holiday, we found that the majority of parents (77%) are planning to travel by car. The most popular destinations include the beach (22.5%), the homes of relatives (20%), and cities (14.9%).

Popular travel destinations

State-by-State Breakdown

In our survey, we took a deep dive into national trends and habits, but also focused on differences and commonalities among states. Washington DC ($325) leads the pack as the most expensive place to shop per child for back to school. Arkansas ($299.90) and Minnesota ($270.45) follow. The national average spending was $207.30 per child. Below, you’ll find a map that breaks down where different states stand on back-to-school spending. How does your state’s average spending compare to your own shopping habits?

Most expensive state for shopping


The study was conducted online, with a total of 2,004 participants. Questions included a combination of open-ended responses,single answer and multiple-choice rating scales. For open-ended answers, researchers strove to determine the intent of each respondent. They ignored misspellings and gave credit if responses were phonetically close.

The study participants were 52% female, 47% male, with 1% not reporting. They came from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. They ranged in age from 18 to 72, with a median age of 35.

The margin of error was ±2.23% with a confidence interval of 95% based on the population of all adults in the U.S.

Fair Use

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