Back to School, Back to Spending: Scotiabank Study Says Parents to Spend About $300 to Get Children Ready for the Big Day

Sep 1, 2010 | Corporate Member News


– Overall, parents to spend less than last year on back-to-school items and incidentals throughout the year

– Majority of parents do not save for back-to-school or budget for incidental costs

Canadians with children in pre-school through grade 12 are planning to spend an average of $293, about $17 less than last year, to get their children ready for going back-to-school, according to a recent Scotiabank study conducted by Harris/Decima. Throughout the year, parents expect to spend an additional $353 on incidentals, which is significantly less than last year ($406).

“Canadian consumers are likely to remain cautious shoppers for now,” said Adrienne Warren, Senior Economist, Scotiabank. “Despite the solid pace of job creation and economic growth over the past year, unsettled financial markets and signs of moderating global growth will keep household spending on a modest track.”

Regionally, parents in Quebec, just as they did in 2009, plan to spend significantly more on getting their children ready for back-to-school ($381) than parents in Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia. 

Amount Spent Getting Children Ready for Back-to-School

   Total  Atlantic  Quebec  Ontario  Man./Sask.  Alberta  B.C.
Average in2010          $293        $313      $381      $265     $215      $353     $225
Average in      2009            $310       $322      $399      $266     $293      $338     $273 

When it comes to school-related incidentals, such as pizza lunches, field trips and sports, parents in Alberta expect to spend significantly more ($462) than those in living in Ontario, the Prairies or British Columbia. 

Amount Expected for School Related Incidentals

   Total  Atlantic  Quebec  Ontario  Man./Sask.  Alberta  B.C.
Average in2010          $353  $395       $403      $337     $231      $462     $294
Average in      2009            $406  $379      $400  $421     $337      $471     $390

 Nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) of parents indicate that they have budgeted for these incidental costs and an almost equal amount (25 per cent) have been saving in anticipation of back-to-school expenses. Among those who have been saving for this year’s back-to-school shopping, most (60 per cent) started saving less than two months ago.

“Getting your children ready to go back to school can be costly, so it’s great to see that some parents are planning ahead for these purchases,” said Brent Currie, Managing Director, Core Deposits & Payments, Scotiabank. “For the majority of parents who do not budget for these costs, now is the perfect time to make a plan for those expenses that pop-up throughout the year. One way for parents to prepare is to set money aside automatically and on a regular basis.”

According to the study, significantly more parents are using cash or debit to pay for back-to-school purchases (71 per cent vs. 64 per cent in 2009).

“Parents who pay for their purchases with a debit card have a great opportunity to save automatically, without having to make significant changes to their current habits,” commented Mr. Currie. “By using a product such as Bank the Rest that rounds up debit purchases to the nearest dollar or five dollars, parents can easily be prepared for any unanticipated costs that may arise throughout the school year.”

Harris/Decima completed 1,000 online surveys among a random sample of Harris/Decima panel members with school aged children (17 and under) living in the household. They also had to be the primary/shared purchaser of back to school items. The study was conducted between August 9th, 2010 to August 16th, 2010.

This was a standard panel survey among a random sample of Harris/Decima’s Canadian panel members. In a fashion similar to a telephone study, email addresses from their panel were pulled at random, according to population and gender specifications, in order to make the study representative of the Canadian population by region and gender. When contacted to solicit participation, participants had no prior knowledge of the subject matter of the study. Harris/Decima controls access to the study through passwords to ensure that respondents can participate only one time. Subsequent to completion of the study, the data was weighted for number of children in the household within region.

Scotiabank is one of North America’s premier financial institutions and Canada’s most international bank. With close to 70,000 employees, Scotiabank Group and its affiliates serve approximately 14.6 million customers in some 50 countries around the world. Scotiabank offers a diverse range of products and services including personal, commercial, corporate and investment banking. With more than $523 billion in assets (as at July 31, 2010), Scotiabank trades on the Toronto (BNS) and New York Exchanges (BNS). For more information please visit

For further information: Robyn Harper, Scotiabank Public Affairs – Toronto, (416) 933-1093 or [email protected]; Deborah Spence, Scotiabank Public Affairs – Calgary, (403) 601-4855 or [email protected]; Michelle Cobb, Scotiabank Public Affairs – Vancouver, (778) 327-5451 or [email protected]

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