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Back-to-School Headquarters

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Survey: Families still working on back-to-school shopping lists

By mid-August, the average family with children in grades K-12 had completed just half of their back-to-school shopping. NRF’s latest survey shows that nearly one-quarter of families had not started shopping yet, up from 20% at the same time last year. View complete survey results.

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Online BTS and BTC shopping update

With just days or weeks before students go back to school or college, one-quarter of back-to-school shoppers and one-third of back-to-college shoppers plan to shop online for some part of their remaining purchases. Read the article and download the BTS and BTC data.

Back to School

Q&A: Back to school with Walmart's merchandising team

Back to school is a big deal at the nation’s largest retailer. Walmart U.S. Senior Vice President of Seasonal Merchandise Scott McCall shares details of the company’s efforts around Teacher Appreciation Week, Classrooms by Walmart and mobile shopping trends. Read the interview.

Back to School 2014

Infographic: Top 2014 back-to-school and college trends

The power of Millennial students – from spending their own money to influencing what others buy for them – is at the top of NRF’s list of trends for back to school. Check out the other top trends. View infographic.

Student in library

NRF's 2014 BTS and BTC Spending Survey

Electronics and school supplies drive increased spending this year, and Millennials plan to spend $913 million of their own money on school supplies. Combined spending for back to school and college is expected to reach $74.9 billion. View detailed survey results.

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Online back-to-school and back-to-college shopping

More than one-third of back-to-school shoppers and 45 percent of college families plan to do some of their shopping online this year. Many own smartphones and tablets and plan to use mobile for shopping and product research. Read the article and download the BTS and BTC data.

Back-to-school pencils and chalkboard

Back-to-school preview: First look at consumer survey data

An NRF survey conducted by Prosper Insights found that economic concerns will push 45 percent of families to look for sales this summer. NRF's Kathy Grannis looks at the early-summer promotions popping up in stores and online, and how families’ budget priorities may impact this year’s spending. Read the article.

Back-to-School Cheat Sheet 2014 Cover

Back to School 2014 Cheat Sheet

Your guide to historical back-to-school shopping trends and a look at top findings for 2014. Download this year's Cheat Sheet

Planned BTS Spending - In Billions
Charts from the NRF Foundation’s Retail Insight Center. To access this data and more research please visit the Retail Insight Center.
Planned BTC Spending - In Billions
Charts from the NRF Foundation’s Retail Insight Center. To access this data and more research please visit the Retail Insight Center.
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.

Webinar Replay

What to expect this back-to-school season

NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis and Prosper Insights analyst Pam Goodfellow present findings from NRF’s annual back-to-school and back-to-college surveys and outline trends impacting retailers during the second biggest consumer spending season of the year.