Generation Z is Breaking Back-to-School Spending Records

  • By Emily French
  • in ,
  • on August 22, 2019

Back-to-school spending has been on an uphill trend since the end of the recession in 2009. According to the National Retail Federation, the 2019 average spend per family is the highest ever recorded ($696.70) vs. $684.79 in 2018. We’re also gearing up for a whopping $80.7B overall expected spend for back-to-school and back-to-college, which is moderately down from last year’s ($82.8B) due to a decrease in the number of households with children in elementary or high school.  

“Consumers are in a strong position given the nation’s growing economy, and we see this reflected in what they say they will spend on back-to-class items this year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Amid K-12 shoppers, clothing/accessories are the leading expense  ($239.82) followed by electronics and shoes. The lowest expense category is (ironically) school supplies ($117.49). Expectedly, college shoppers are expected to spend the most on electronics (234.69), followed by clothing and accessories and dorm/apartment furnishings. 

Given the record-breaking back-to-school spending this year, Gen Z is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with in the marketing world. They account for 25% of the US Population, and according to MarketingDive, Gen Z teens influence $600 billion in family spending per year.

Differently from Millennials, who prioritize spending on travel and experiences, Gen Z spends more on clothing and values quality and luxury goods. This generation grew up online, so their messaging should be personalized, self-aware, and authentic. Their most popularly used social outlets are Youtube (95%), followed by Instagram (69%), Facebook (67%) and Snapchat (67%), and 80% of Gen Z-ers say they’re influenced by social media while making their buying decision. The children of meme culture are realists, not perfectionists, and they appreciate a brand with personality and individuality, with 55% of them giving more attention to brands that are socially or environmentally responsible

Gen Z is like no generation before- they’re realists, advanced technoholics, and they have an affinity for quality and luxury goods while also being financially pragmatic and devoted to social and environmental responsibility in their buyer decision journey. With this generation gearing up for the workforce, we’re interested to see how Gen Z’s values and approach to money impact our future.

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PUBLISHED BY Emily French

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