Back-to-School Spending: Canadian Consumers Remain Confident

August 22, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Men | Retail & E-Commerce | Women | Youth & Gen X

Some 37% of Canadians plan to shop for back-to-school items this year, and they plan to spend, on average, approximately $353 (Canadian) on school-related items – with 34% intending to spend $400 or more – according to a new study conducted for Retail Council of Canada (RCC) by POLLARA. (Note: $1 (USD) = $1.05 (CAD))


“The results in this survey reinforce the fact that back-to-school is a key time of the year for Canadian families. Interestingly, 48% of respondents intend to spend the same amount on back-to-school items as last year, while 33% intend to spend more,” says Roland Merbis, Vice-President, Public Affairs, POLLARA Inc.


According to the survey of Canadian consumers:

  • On average, Canadians shopping for back-to-school intend to spend $193 on clothing, with 25% spending between $100 and $199.
  • School supplies are also a mainstay with Canadians, who intend to spend $123 on average, with 26% of respondents planning to spend between $100 and $199.
  • Back-to-school also marks a time for new footwear with respondents looking to spend $80 on new shoes, with 22% spending between $50 and $99.

A survey by RCC of retail members across the country cited some back-to-school trends in the following categories:

  • Clothing: For boys/young men – polo shirts, khaki pants, argyle sweaters, hoodies, vests and cargo pants. For girls/young women – leggings, tunic tops, skinny or wide-leg jeans with wide ‘cinch-belts’;
  • Footwear: For girls/young women – riding boots, oxfords, ballet flats, ankle boots and flat booties. For boys/young men – skater/athletic shoes.
  • Electronics: MP3 players, notebook computers, pocket size USB flash drives, desktop webcams, digital cameras, multifunctional cellular phones, and wireless mouse and keyboards.
  • Toys: Electronic learning laptops, interactive story books, and pen-top computer systems.
  • Characters: SpongeBob SquarePants, Webkinz plush animals, Thomas The Train & Friends, Transformers, Bratz, and Harry Potter.
  • School Supplies: Locker organization tools such as an extendable locker shelf, bright pens, pencils and markers, binders and backpacks that come with embedded speakers to hook up to an MP3 player, and character lunch bags.

Among other highlights of the consumer survey:

How Much Are Canadians Spending?

  • Residents of Quebec and Alberta will spend the most on back-to-school items this year ($449 and $409 respectively).
  • Residents of the Prairie provinces intend to spend the least ($269).
  • Men will spend slightly more on back-to-school items, on average $360, compared to women, $349.

What Are They Buying?

  • Clothing:
    • 85% of Canadians plan to purchase clothing this back-to-school season.
    • Residents of Quebec and the Atlantic provinces intend to spend the most on clothes this back-to-school shopping season, $249 and $203 respectively, followed by residents of Alberta ($199) and Ontario ($181).
    • On average, men predict that they will spend more on clothing than women this season ($205 compared to $185 respectively).
  • Electronics and Computer-related Equipment: For those 52% of Canadians who intend to purchase electronics and/or computer-related equipment for back-to-school, they plan to spend $254 on average.
  • Shoes: On average, residents of Quebec and Atlantic Canada plan to spend the most on shoes this back-to-school shopping season ($95 and $93 respectively).
  • School Supplies: Residents of Quebec plan to spend significantly more ($200) than other Canadians on school supplies. The Atlantic provinces come in second at $135, while Albertans place third, intending to spend $102, on average.
  • Furniture: Canadians who are heading to college and university will need to furnish their rooms and 40% of back-to-school shoppers who plan to purchase furniture will look to spend on average $302.

Who Is Buying?

Of those surveyed, 69% of back-to-school shoppers are parents, while 18% intend to purchase items for themselves and 5% are grandparents.

About the study: For the survey, a representative randomly selected sample of 2,634 adult Canadians was polled through an online omnibus. These data were weighted to ensure the sample’s regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2001 Census data. The actual results of back-to-school sales may differ/vary from the intentions stated in these findings.

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