• Canadians to spend more this year on back-to-school items and incidentals throughout the year
  • Fewer parents buy stationary, more buy electronics 
  • Majority of parents do not save for back-to-school or budget for incidental costs

Back-to-school spending is on the rise this year, as Canadians with children in pre-school through grade 12 plan to spend an average of $324, $31 more 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 $403 on incidentals, which is significantly more than last year ($353).

“Continuing job and income gains combined with competitive retail pricing should support back-to-school spending by Canadians this year,” said Adrienne Warren, Scotiabank Senior Economist. “Nonetheless, heightened global economic uncertainty and unsettled financial market conditions may temper expenditures.”

For the third year in a row, Quebec parents plan to spend significantly more on getting their children ready to go back to school ($418) 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 in 2011 $324 $340 $418 $294 $267 $377 $243
Average in 2010 $293 $313 $381 $265 $215 $353 $225
Average in 2009 $310 $322 $399 $266 $293 $338 $273

Though fewer parents have purchased or plan to purchase it this year, stationary remains at the top of back to school shopping lists (85 per cent vs. 89 per cent in 2010), followed closely by clothing and then books (84 and 52 per cent respectively). While still fourth on the list, electronics are more popular this year for children heading back to school (19 per cent vs. 13 per cent in 2010).

“Our study showed that more Quebec parents purchase stationary and books compared to other provinces,” said Mike Henry, Scotiabank’s Senior Vice-President and Head of Canadian Retail Payments, Deposits and Lending. “But as all parents know, loading up on notebooks, pens and fall fashions is just the beginning of a year full of school related expenses. From costs associated with sports and clubs to pizza lunches and field trips, school related incidentals throughout the year can really add up.”

Similar to last year’s results, parents living in Alberta expect to spend more on these incidental expenses than those living in Atlantic Canada, Ontario or the Prairies.

Amount Expected for School Related Incidentals

  Total Atlantic Quebec Ontario Man./Sask. Alberta B.C.
Average in 2011 $403 $330 $455 $392 $290 $523 $379
Average in 2010 $353 $395 $403 $337 $231 $462 $294
Average in 2009 $406 $379 $400 $421 $337 $471 $390

Similar to last year, nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) of parents indicate that they have budgeted for these incidental costs and an equal number have been saving in anticipation of back-to-school expenses. Among those who have been saving for this year’s back-to-school shopping, half (49 per cent) started saving at least three months ago, significantly more than last year (40 per cent in 2010).  

According to the study, significantly more parents are using their credit card for back to school purchases this year (44 per cent vs. 29 per cent in 2010). Mr. Henry recommends that, no matter their method of payment, Canadians should consider using a debit or credit card that rewards them for their everyday spending.  

“Parents are going to spend money getting their child ready to go back to school regardless, so they may as well get something in return,” suggested Mr. Henry. “Our recently launched Scotia Moneyback account or our Momentum VISA suite of cards are perfect examples of debit and credit options that provide Canadians with cash back on their day-to-day spending.”  

The Scotia Moneyback Account, a first-if-its-kind chequing account, offers customers one per cent cash back rewards on all point of sale debit purchases. The Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite Card offers more options and higher cash back on credit card purchases. For more information about the features of these new products and how cash back rewards can add up, please visit: www.scotiabank.com.  

The Scotiabank Back to School Poll was conducted using Harris/Decima’s online panel from August 2nd, 2011 to August 10th, 2011.  A total of 1,001 surveys were conducted among a random sample of panel members with school aged children (17 and under) living in the household. Respondents also had to be the primary/shared purchaser of back to school items.  

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.  

About Scotiabank
Scotiabank is one of North America’s premier financial institutions and Canada’s most international bank. With more than 70,000 employees, Scotiabank Group and its affiliates serve some 18.6 million customers in more than 50 countries around the world. Scotiabank offers a broad range of products and services including personal, commercial, corporate and investment banking. With assets above $567 billion (as at July 31, 2011), Scotiabank trades on the Toronto (BNS) and New York Exchanges (BNS). For more information please visit www.scotiabank.com.  

For further information:  

Robyn Harper, Scotiabank Media Communications, (416) 933-1093 or [email protected]