These shopping sprees are no joke.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated August 15, 2019
Back to school shopping - spending on kids by parents beats Black Friday
Credit: Getty Images

Getting ready to go back to school means coordinating back-to-school shopping, thinking about that back-to-school supplies list, finding backpacks, planning hearty and healthy school lunches, practicing back-to-school hairstyles, and more. Parents (and their lengthy to-do lists) are preparing their children for the school year ahead—and many of them are also preparing to spend a boatload of money, according to a new survey.

Fashion resale marketplace thredUP asked hundreds of U.S. parents about their back-to-school shopping and spending habits and found that the majority of parents (62 percent) spend more money shopping for their children during the back-to-school season than they do on Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Most also said they spent more on back-to-school shopping than on their children’s birthdays.

That doesn’t mean these parents are spending very little on their kids during the holidays or on birthdays, they’re just spending a lot of money on back-to-school prep. The survey found that, on average, parents buy 19 items per child, spending $24 per item. That adds up to an average total of $866 per family on back-to-school shopping for the kids, based on an average 1.9 children per family.

That’s a good chunk of change, but not investing in a back-to-school shopping haul means resisting the pressure of getting kids popular gear and clothes before they embark on a new school year. Clothes may not make or break a child’s school year, but it’s easy to forget that in the midst of a shopping spree.

To reduce the financial load of all this spending, parents can shop secondhand, or purchase clothes with the knowledge that they can—and should—be selling them through thredUP or similar services (or passing them down) when kids grow out of them. Brands with good resale values include Patagonia, The North Face, Converse, Columbia, and Nike, according to thredUP’s analysis, so buying clothes from those brands could mean recouping some of that $866 in a few months or so. And parents trying to resist the urge to go on a back-to-school shopping spree should remind themselves that some back-to-school traditions, such as back-to-school quotes or a first day of school photo shoot in the yard, are free.