Parents expect to spend an average of US$1,642 on back-to-school expenses this year

Parents expect to spend an average of US$1,642 on back-to-school expenses this year

US families are set to spend more on clothing, outerwear and jackets this coming school year, with 2016 tipped to see the largest year-on-year increase for total back-to-school shopping in the past five years.

According to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, parents say they expect to spend an average of US$1,642 on back-to-school expenses this year, up from $1,239 in 2015.

The average family is set to spend $293 on clothing and accessories (versus $269 in 2015), $145 on new shoes (against $120 last year), and $126 on outwear or jackets (compared with $106 year ago), according to the research.

Additionally, 95% of parents plan to purchase new clothes and accessories, compared with 91% in 2015; 94% will buy new shoes (up from 91%) and 82% plan to splurge on outwear or jackets (up from 75%).

"When looking at trending data on this topic from the past five years, 2016 is showing the largest year-over-year increase for back-to-school shopping," says Jed Scala, senior vice president, consumer lending at American Express. "This may be attributed to an ever-evolving back-to-school shopping list and, perhaps, parents' ability and willingness to spend more when it comes to education and extracurricular activities."

As back-to-school spending rises, parents are finding it more important to set budgets for certain school-related expenses. For example, 64% of parents are setting a shopping budget for clothes compared with 59% in 2015.

Despite setting these spending limits, 23% of parents say they would still purchase clothing or a tech gadget if it exceeds their budget because it's an incentive for their kids to do well in school, or it's an easier trade-off than arguing with their child.

With 92% of parents saying their children are using tech for leaning (versus 82% in 2015), six in ten parents will purchase electronics for the upcoming year (59%), spending an average of $505 on gadgets.

However, a potential downside is that in addition to setting budgets, 78% of parents say they are choosing to curb their own spending to afford their kids' back-to-school expenses.