Affirm Survey Reveals Parents Will Splurge on Back-to-School Shopping This Year

July 26, 2021

Half of U.S. parents will have already started back-to-school shopping before August arrives; Clothing is the top category parents will spend the most money on

SAN FRANCISCO – July 26, 2021 – American parents are splurging on back-to-school shopping this year by planning to spend an average of $843 on each child, according to the latest research from What’s Trending in Spending, Affirm’s look at what consumers are up to and where they're headed next. With projected spending on each child up by 19% from an average of $707 last year, parents are already getting a head-start on shopping – over half (51%) will have started their back-to-school shopping before August arrives, and two in three (67%) are doing so in part to help them budget better.

In 2020, Affirm found technology was the top back-to-school spending category, but this year  more than 70% of parents will spend the most on clothing in 2021, followed by school supplies (43%) and backpacks (39%). In addition to checking off their kids’ shopping lists, 65% of parents said they wouldn’t mind doing their own “back-to-school shopping” by splurging on clothes (68%), shoes (58%), self-care items (33%) and even a bottle of wine (17%) for themselves.

Parents’ excitement for their kids to head back to the classroom doesn’t stop there ­— nearly three-fourths (71%) of parents have plans to celebrate sending their kids back to school this year with nearly a quarter (22%) planning to take a vacation without their kids to mark the start of the new school year. 

“This year, back to school shopping is for both kids and parents,” said Silvija Martincevic, Chief Commercial Officer at Affirm. “Parents are planning to spend significantly more on back to school items like clothes, school supplies and backpacks, but are also looking at splurging on their own clothes, shoes and self-care items. Regardless of what they’re shopping for, the need for financial flexibility is clear. In fact, 50% of parents surveyed are interested in using a pay-over-time solution for their back-to-school shopping this year.”

Additional key findings include

  • ​​37% of parents started back-to-school shopping earlier than usual this year; of these respondents, 67% started early so they can better budget, while 59% wanted to take advantage of sales 

  • Nearly 1 in 3 parents (29%) agree they spend more on back-to-school than holiday shopping

  • On average, parents spend a little over an hour (68 minutes) looking around for the best back-to-school deals

  • While more parents plan to shop in-person this year than last (39%, up from 35%), four in 10 plan to shop both in-person and online

  • 50% agree there is more variety online and 42% agree buying everything in one place is a major perk of in-store shopping

  • 50% of parents are interested in using a pay-over-time solution for their back-to-school shopping this year

    • 39% of those interested in using a pay-over-time solution say the biggest reason is because it helps them stay in budget

With Affirm, eligible consumers can shop for back-to-school essentials while paying at their own pace, with budget-friendly terms that allow them to pay monthly or every other week. Shoppers can explore nearly 12,000 Affirm merchants, including:  

  • Apparel: adidas, Keds, Nordstrom

  • Major Retailers: Target, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods 

  • Technology: Simply Mac, OnePlus, Motorola

  • Travel: Vrbo, Delta Vacations, Expedia

About the Survey

The online survey was conducted by OnePoll for Affirm in July 2021 with a sample of 2,000 American parents of school-aged children. 

About Affirm

Affirm’s mission is to deliver honest financial products that improve lives. By building a new kind of payment network — one based on trust, transparency and putting people first — we empower millions of consumers to spend and save responsibly, and give thousands of businesses the tools to fuel growth. Unlike credit cards and other pay-over-time options, we show consumers exactly what they will pay up front, never increase that amount, and never charge any late or hidden fees. Follow Affirm on social media: LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter.

Payment options through Affirm are subject to an eligibility check, may not be available in all states, and are provided by these lending partners: CA residents: Loans by Affirm Loan Services, LLC are made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lender license.

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Brittany Jackson