Survey: Boston parents plan to spend $650 per child on back-to-school items

A display of back to school backpacks in a Staples store. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
A display of back to school backpacks in a Staples store. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

The average Boston parent is preparing to spend about $650 on back-to-school related items over the next few weeks, which is slightly higher than the national average of $597. That's according to a new survey from consulting firm Deloitte.

About three-fourths of city families surveyed said they were planning to spend the same amount or slightly less this year versus last year on back-to-school supplies. Overall, Deloitte is anticipating a 10% drop in back-to-school spending across the country. It's the first time the group has predicted a spending drop since 2014.

Evan Sheehan, a global retail, wholesale and distribution sector leader for Deloitte, says a predicted drop in clothing and tech purchases is driving that trend.

"A lot of people refreshed technology over the last two to two-and-a-half years," he said. "And so it was not necessarily high on the list for folks this back-to-school season."

About a quarter of Boston families surveyed reported being in a worse financial situation this year compared to last year, which could also be driving the spending cutbacks. Roughly 45% of city parents said they "anticipate a weakening economy in the next six months," according to the survey.

The survey also touched on parents' thoughts on smartphone usage and kids' mental health. Roughly 54% of Boston parents said their teen or pre-teen has a smartphone compared to 53% of parents across the nation. Among Boston parents who indicated they're concerned about their child's mental health, 23% said smartphones have complicated their child's life, compared to 36% of parents nationally.

Sixteen percent of Boston parents also said their kids are using generative AI in their schoolwork, but more than a third of parents disagree that this is a positive tool for learning.

To compile its study, Deloitte polled 416 Boston parents of school-aged children and a national sample of 1,200 parents between late May and mid-June.

Carrie Jung Senior Reporter, Education
Carrie is a senior education reporter.



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