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Back-to-School Headquarters

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School supplies

Trends Update: Last-minute promotions

NRF's Kathy Grannis looks at retailer websites — from Whole Foods Market and Walgreens to Dormify and True Value — to see how these brands are making an appeal to last-minute shoppers. Read more.

School supplies

Consumer shopping survey

NRF’s latest Back-to-School/College Survey finds that sales tax holidays and end-of-season discounts are contributing to a delayed start in back-to-school shopping this year. View survey results.

Back to School

NRF's 2015 BTS and BTC Spending Survey

After splurging in 2014, families plan to trim their back-to-school spending this year. Average spending on back to school has grown 42 percent over the past 10 years. View detailed survey results.

Back to school

Infographic: Top 10 Trends for 2015

A look at the most interesting insights — from free shipping to school uniforms — in this year's back-to-school and college survey. View the infographic.

New supplies for back to school

2015 Preview

NRF's June survey finds that families shopping for both school and college students this summer are already exhibiting signs of optimism. These survey highlights offer an early look at how the economy could impact when, where and how Americans shop for school and college items this summer. Check out the preview.

A look back at 2014

Infographic – Millennial spending power was at the top of NRF’s list of trends for back to school. Check out the other top trends.

Cheat Sheet – Your guide to historical back-to-school shopping trends and a look at top findings for 2014. Download the Cheat Sheet

Q&A with Walmart’s Merchandising Team – Back to school is a big deal at the nation’s largest retailer. Read the interview with Walmart U.S. Senior Vice President of Seasonal Merchandise Scott McCall.

Spending survey – Combined spending for back to school and college was expected to reach $74.9 billion. View detailed survey results.

Online shopping – More than one-third of back-to-school shoppers and 45 percent of college families planned to do some of their shopping online. Read the article.

Survey update – By mid-August, the average family with children in grades K-12 had completed just half of their back-to-school shopping. View complete survey results.

Online shopping update – In August, one-quarter of back-to-school shoppers and one-third of back-to-college shoppers planned to shop online for some part of their remaining purchases. Read the article.

Historical Highlights


Talking about the expectations for consumer spending during the 2013 school season, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in 2013 said, “…the good news is that consumers are spending, but they are doing so with cost and practicality in mind.” After spending record high amounts on new school supplies, apparel and electronics in 2012, mom and dad asked their children to reuse everything they could in 2013 to help save a few bucks. View 2013 survey release.


Driven less by want than need, back-to-school spending is usually more tied to growing children and “necessity purchases” than discretionary purchases. Spending in 2012 topped $690 on average, the highest seen in the survey’s 11 years, thanks to two years of cutting back on budgets, parents' need for clothes that fit their children properly, and a higher amount of children entering grade school. View 2012 survey release.


Parents kept budgets in check in 2011, making sure their children looked under their beds and dug through desks and drawers for pens and pencils, as well as tried on every pair of jeans again before they set out on shopping trips. Average spend was flat from the previous year, but the percent of people buying electronics dropped sharply from 64 percent in 2011 to 52 percent in 2011, likely contributing to the overall decrease in average spending. View 2011 survey release.