Parents around the country this year will collectively spend billions on back to school supplies—though not quite as much as last year.
A separate estimate of back-to-school spending, meanwhile, suggests that parents aren’t just focused on things that will help their kids academically—but also things that that will keep their sons and daughters clean.
TeacherLists is a Massachusetts-based company that operates a proprietary platform for educators to share school supply lists with families. The idea is to allow easily and efficiency share that information with parents, who can access them in a variety of forms—via smartphones, home computers, or in stores, or on retailers’ websites. “No more searching through backpacks or emailing teachers,” the company says.
This year, not all of the back-to-school spending was of the pen, paper, and notebook variety, TeacherLists found.
An analysis of 300,000 of those lists shows an increase in families buying cleaning supplies, such as tissues, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, TeacherLists reports.
Overall, the average back-to-school supply list for elementary schools had a $70.93 pricetag, TeacherLists reports. It was $91.14 at the middle school level, and $157.58 at the high school level. (The retail federation’s numbers are much higher because they include a lot of other categories of spending, beyond simply what educators are asking families to buy, explained Tim Sullivan, the founder of the company, in an interview.)
Sullivan attributes the spending on those items on cleaning products partly to schools lacking the money to cover those costs on their own. Parents are taking up the slack.
“Something’s going to give,” he said. “School budgets are as tight as ever.””