2005-08-18 / Business & Finance

Americans Spending Less On Back-To-School Items: Survey

According to the annual Back-to-School Survey conducted by Myvesta, a nonprofit consumer education organization, Americans plan to spend $225 less this year on back-to-school expenses. The average shopper plans to spend $3,164 this year, down 6.6 percent form $3,389 in 2004. This year’s survey shows a return to the back-to-school spending of 2003, where the average shopper planned to spend $3,184. Of those surveyed, 47 percent plan to spend less then $1,000 on their back-to-school expenses in 2005.

“Back-to-school is the most expensive time of year for many American families; more costly than summer vacations and holiday shopping combined,” said Steve Rhode, president of Myvesta. “Most families don’t have extra cash this year to splurge on the latest and greatest back-to-school gadgets, clothing or dorm room decorations and when they are spending they are looking to get the most for their dollar.”

The survey was conducted July 29-31 in a random telephone poll of 1,000 adult Americans. Each respondent was asked about their back-to-school purchases for themselves, family members and others. The average spending in each of seven categories includes:

• Electronics: $281 in 2005, $393 in 2004 (Computers, printers, software, calculators, cell phones, etc.)

• Clothing: $374 in 2005, $431 in 2004 (Coats, shoes, uniforms, backpacks, accessories, etc.)

• Fees: $1,852 in 2005, $1,455 in 2004 (Application fees, tuition, health assessments, deposits, etc.)

•Sporting/Extracurricular Activities: $141 in 2005, $207 in 2004 (Equipment, jerseys, uniforms, coaching fees, etc.)

• Dorm Room Supplies: 98 in 2005, $178 in 2004 (Bedding, towels, toiletries, refrigerators, cooking supplies, etc.)

• Desk Supplies: $146 in 2005, $142 in 2004 (Pens, pencils, notebooks, books, reference materials, etc.)

• Transportation: $462 in 2005, $1,030 in 2004 (Air, Bus and rail travel, car purchase, subway passes, etc.)

• Total for Back-to-School: $3,164 in 2005, $3,389 in 2004 (The average of all responses)

Five of the seven categories included in the survey showed decreases in spending with the largest percentage drops in the categories of transportation and dorm room supplies.

The average American plans to spend 55.2 percent less on transportation related expenses and 45 percent less on dorm room supplies. Spending on desk supplies remained relatively unchanged with a slight increase in spending of 2.8 percent.

The only category where spending significantly increased was fees, where the average American plans to spend 21.4 percent more that they did last year.

“The one place where families cannot spend less on their back-to-school spending is fees, which we are seeing rise every year,” Rhode said. “Colleges are raising tuition just about every year and more and more school districts are passing increased costs on to the parents.”

Other results from the survey include:

• 56.8 percent of Americans plan to spend money on back-to-school expenses.

• Males plan to spend $3,780 on back-to-school, females plan to spend $2,634.

• People in the Northeast plan to spend the most on back-to-school with an average of $3,291. Midwest residents plan to spend $3,230. Those in the West plan to spend $3,157 and people in the South plan to spend $3,058.

• People aged 18-24 plan to spend $5,368 on their back-to-school expenses. Those in the 25-34 age bracket average $2,897; people 35-44 average $2,173; People 45-54 average $3,499; people 55-64 average $2,777 and those aged 65 and older plan to spend an average of $2,704.

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