How much is back-to-school going to cost this year?


ROLLING MEADOWS, IL – JULY 26: Crayola markers are seen in the back-to-school section in a Wal-Mart store July 28, 2003 in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Wal-Mart said that sales in the month of July at its U.S. stores that were open at least one year could top expectations. Warm weather has helped turnaround slower retail sales following the cooler weather of May and June. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — American families are planning to spend more on back-to-school items in 2022 than ever before, even as many popular supplies have remained fairly inflation-resistant over the past year.

This year, consumers are expected to spend an average of $864 per household on back-to-school shopping for their elementary and high-school-aged students, according to a report from the National Retail Federation. That’s about $15 more than last year’s record average and $168 higher than in 2019.

For those going to college, spending is projected to be even higher, about $1,199 per household on average — a number that has risen considerably in recent years.

Overall spending on back-to-school shopping for K-12 students is expected to come in just below last year’s $37 billion record-high — a number that has skyrocketed more than 40% since 2019, NRF data shows.

Much of the uptick over the past few years has been driven by increased spending on electronics and other computer-related equipment — a trend that accelerated during the pandemic.

About 65% of families are expected to buy electronics as part of their back-to-school shopping this year — up from 54% in 2019. They plan to spend about $293, down $2 from last year but still up significantly from 2019.

the cost of inflation

Curbing inflation, which hit 8.5% in July, continues to be the top concern for Americans across the country.

The good news: many back-to-school related prices have increased slower than overall inflation and in some cases, items actually cost less than this time last year.

Per NRF’s annual survey, more than 90% of families plan to buy school supplies, clothing and shoes for their K-12 students this year. Of those, consumers plan to spend about the same amount on school supplies as last year but slightly more, about 4%, on shoes and clothing.

In categories like electronics, where prices have actually fallen since July 2021, per household spending is expected to decline slightly.

Here’s how prices have changed in common back-to-school categories:


Students and their families plan to spend about $1,200 per household on college supplies, equaling last year’s record-setting average, according to NRF.

Although university students are more likely to benefit from decreasing electronic prices, the cost of furnishing a dorm room or apartment has risen faster than overall inflation. According to the latest Consumer Price Index:

  • Living room, kitchen, and dining room furniture: +20.8% from July 2021
  • Furniture and bedding: +14.8% from July 2021
  • Clocks, lamps and decorative items: +8.7% from July 2021

Prices for college textbooks are also up about 4.2% compared to last year.

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