News release

Parents boost their back-to-school budgets this season

According to JLL’s annual survey, planned back-to-school spending rose nearly 22% over 2023

June 27, 2024

Sarah Kern

Retail, Industrial and Property Management PR
+1 312 228 3058

CHICAGO, June 27, 2024– As soon as students close their books and put down their pens and pencils, parents pick up back-to-school shopping lists. According to JLL’s new Back-to-School Survey results, parents plan to spend 21.8% more on back-to-school shopping this year, signaling positive implications for retail sales and a successful shopping season.

At the end of May, JLL Retail Research conducted an online survey of more than 1,000 parents of school-age children to learn how and when they intend to shop and spend this back-to-school season. Despite concerns about inflation, parents earning over $50,000 per year do not plan to cut back on their back-to-school budgets, while parents across all income groups – especially those with higher incomes – intend to allocate a larger share of their budgets to discretionary products rather than school-required items.

“For the second consecutive year, parents are increasing their per-child spending from $390 to $475, despite concerns about inflation,” said Keisha Virtue, Senior Analyst of Retail Research at JLL. “Our survey demonstrates that parents are prioritizing back-to-school essentials and will continue to play a crucial part in driving consumer spending and foot traffic.”

Parents have started shopping earlier this year

This year, parents plan to start back-to-school shopping significantly earlier. More than 75% of parents expect to have already begun shopping by July, showing a trend of consumers wanting to get their shopping done sooner. Additionally, about 25% of parents reported they have already started back-to-school shopping. This could explain the increase in May retail sales tracked in the Census Bureau Advance Monthly Sales report across school-related categories, including electronics, sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores, general merchandise stores and clothing stores.

JLL’s Back-to-School report also highlights that almost 90% of parents will interact with physical stores in some way for their back-to-school shopping, emphasizing the continued importance of brick-and-mortar retailers in this sector. In fact, parents will spend more than 63% of their shopping budgets in stores versus online, and this is especially true of high-income shoppers.

“We are seeing a positive shift in parents’ shopping habits for back-to-school,” said Naveen Jaggi, President of Retail Advisory Services at JLL. “With the hefty rise in parents shopping in physical stores and the availability of multiple retail options, parents are taking advantage of sales, deals and coupons while also exploring different store options to find the best value for their back-to-school needs.”

Where are the parents shopping?

When it comes to choosing where to shop, the “Big Three” – Walmart, Amazon and Target – remain top choices for parents. Other top retailers include Costco, Old Navy and Dollar General; however, there are notable differences in shopping behavior by demographic. Parents with college-aged students, for example, plan to spend about $200 more per child and are more likely to shop at office supplies stores for big-ticket items like electronics, home office supplies and textbooks.

The report also reveals that while sales, deals and coupons remain important to parents, about 48% of parents will buy fewer products or purchase second-hand to save money. Additionally, there is an increase in the number of parents planning to visit multiple stores, suggesting that they are willing to spend more money in the process.

Malls gain popularity

According to the survey, malls have gained popularity with parents for back-to-school shopping. The report states that the proportion of parents planning to shop at malls for their back-to-school needs has increased six percentage points from 2023. Furthermore, parents who plan to visit malls for back-to-school shopping are more likely to spend significantly more than the average, with an average budget of $656. Additionally, nearly half of mall shoppers (45.8%) plan to visit four or more stores, indicating that they will spend more money in the process.

“The mall offers parents a wider variety of options and allows them to have a more comprehensive shopping experience for their back-to-school needs,” said Kristin Mueller, President of Retail Property Management at JLL. “With a multitude of retailers offering deals throughout the back-to-school shopping season, we can expect the malls to be a go-to shopping destination this season.” 

About JLL

For over 200 years, JLL (NYSE: JLL), a leading global commercial real estate and investment management company, has helped clients buy, build, occupy, manage and invest in a variety of commercial, industrial, hotel, residential and retail properties. A Fortune 500® company with annual revenue of $20.8 billion and operations in over 80 countries around the world, our more than 108,000 employees bring the power of a global platform combined with local expertise. Driven by our purpose to shape the future of real estate for a better world, we help our clients, people and communities SEE A BRIGHTER WAYSM. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit