CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- This back-to-school season is unlike any we've ever seen. With the school year riddled with uncertainty, it's no wonder 2 in 3 parents said they're stressed about shopping for gear and supplies. CompareCards's annual Back to School survey of parents reveals a significant stress uptick compared to last year's report, along with some other pandemic-related findings.
- Stress is up: With 67% of shoppers stressed about paying for back-to-school shopping this year, it marks a big increase from the 43% who said the same in 2019.
- Looming back-to-school debt: This year, 3 in 10 expect to go into debt because of back-to-school shopping, up from 26% last year.
- Bigger expenses: Back-to-school shoppers expect to spend 11.7% more than last year, at an average of $478 per shopper compared to $428 in 2019.
- Family tensions on the rise: 1 in 5 respondents anticipate more shopping-related fights with their child than last year, with the majority citing the pandemic as the cause of anxiety. Those who were laid off or furloughed expect more arguments than parents who are still working.
- A shopping shift: Nearly half (44%) of parents plan to do most of their back-to-school shopping online. That's up from 13% of shoppers who said the same in 2019.
"In a normal year, there's stress from the cost of back-to-school shopping, the rush to get it all done, the arguments with your kids over what you should buy and more," said Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at CompareCards. "However, this year's widespread joblessness and confusion over just what the upcoming school year will even look like means that everyone is even more on edge than normal."
Spending expected to increase
Here are some of the homeschooling-focused categories that survey takers said they expect to spend more on:
- Electronics: 47% more than last year
- Office supplies: 44% increase from 2019
- Athletic equipment: up 37%
Top back-to-school items parents plan to purchase in 2020:
- Clothing: 84%
- School supplies (pens, binders, etc.): 84%
- Shoes: 78%
- Backpacks: 54%
- Electronics: 50%
Shoppers are more stressed and many contemplate taking on debt
- Laid off or furloughed parents (64%) are worried about affording back-to-school shopping this year than those who are still employed (48%).
- 1 in 6 shoppers said they had to use savings meant for back-to-school shopping to cover other expenses during the pandemic.
- To help them bridge the gap, 4 in 10 parents said they will rely on their credit cards when shopping this year, while 3 in 10 expect to go into debt because of it — that's up from 26% last year.
Stress leads to arguments for some families, while others expect less conflict
- 1 in 5 parents said they expect more conflict than last year. The majority said that the anxiety all stems from the coronavirus. Those who were laid off or furloughed expect more arguments than parents who are still working.
- On the other hand, 38% actually expect to argue less, and many said it's because there's simply less to buy.
How parents can reduce back-to-shopping stress
- Shop around for the best price: With 44% of parents planning to do most of their back-to-school shopping online, they can compare prices with the click of a button. Take the time to look for deals.
- Use credit cards to earn rewards: Take advantage of lucrative rewards by paying with a credit card (like the Target Redcard, Walmart Rewards Card or Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card).
- But try to avoid credit card debt: If you're using credit because you're cash-strapped, another strategy to consider is browsing 0% intro card offers, some of which give you a year or more to pay down a balance without incurring any extra interest.
- Buy just the basics for now: If your child is going to start off fully remote, they don't need a whole new wardrobe for fall. For in-person instruction, take an inventory of what you have in the house already before you shop (i.e. art supplies and loose-leaf paper).
- School the kids on budgets: When it comes to money and kids, be upfront with them. They may whine and complain at first, but generally they'll understand.
- Find creative ways to compromise: If last year's backpack is still in good condition, that'll free up cash for other essentials. For smaller kids, a pack of stickers can help jazz up bargain bin supplies without having to splurge on more expensive brand items.
To view the full report and for more information, visit https://www.comparecards.com/blog/back-to-school-spending-survey/.
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CompareCards' mission is to help people make smarter, more informed, healthier financial decisions based on deeper knowledge of financial offers. Each month, over 2.9 million visitors come to CompareCards' website to independently compare credit cards side-by-side and choose a credit card based on interest rate, reward benefit, cost savings, and other factors that are important to each person. CompareCards provides easy-to-use, objective tools and educational resources that help people do everything from making credit card comparisons to managing their credit health. For more information, please visit http://www.comparecards.com.