Back to school on a budget as Canadians seek savings

Students will be heading back to school with less this year, except for those in one province

Back to school on a budget as Canadians seek savings
Steve Randall

In what has been a highly unusual year, it seems almost impossible that we have already reached the back-to-school season.

But as millions of Canadian students head back to class, they will be doing so with significantly less spent on material goods according to a survey of back-to-school spending.

Despite a general trend for spending more since lockdowns began to ease, the Leger survey for the Retail Council of Canada shows that the average anticipated spend on back-to-school items in 2020 is $727 versus $919 in 2019.

Apparel and sporting goods will suffer the largest reduction in spending this year.

The survey reveals that many of the purchases that would have been made, have already taken place due to the rise in remote learning forced by the pandemic. This is seen in categories such as furniture, electronics, school supplies, and books.

Quebec, however, is bucking the trend with consumers purchasing more school supplies and sporting goods than elsewhere in Canada.

Continuing trend

"The results of this year's back-to-school spending survey are not surprising," said Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail Council of Canada. "With many regions of the country still struggling with in-person back-to-school guidelines, many parents and students are still unsure of what back-to-school will look like in the fall.  We anticipate "back-to-school" spending this year will continue to be more spread out throughout the year and follow Canadians' confidence levels in a return to the "new-normal" that COVID-19 is forcing us all to accommodate."

Although in-store remains the more popular method to shop for back-to-school items, more Canadians are turning to online shopping for back-to-school related purchases compared to 2019.