BYO technology hikes back to school costs

Melissa Jenkins
(Australian Associated Press)


The rise of BYO technology even among young students means back to school expenses are heftier this year than in the past, a new study finds.

But it’s a prime opportunity for large electronics retailers to get an early year sales boost.

With children across Australia due back in classrooms in the coming week, parents are hitting the stores to stock up on the traditional items of stationery, shoes and lunch boxes, as well as laptops and tablets.

Parents of primary and secondary school children will spend an average of $829 on back to schools items this year, up 43 per cent from 2017, according to a survey of more than 1,000 parents.

Spending on technology such as laptops and tablets is up 50 per cent from 2017.

The typical family will spend $269 on technology, $182 on uniforms, $127 on textbooks, $103 on school shoes and $91 on stationery.

The Commonwealth Bank survey, conducted by ACA Research, estimates $1.7 billion will be spent by parents in back to school purchases this year.

Harvey Norman technology and entertainment general manager Frank Robinson said June used to be the retailer’s best month for personal computer and Mac sales, followed by December and January.

But January is now the busiest month in that category, fuelled by back to school spending.

“It’s been an amazing shift,” Mr Robinson said.

Sales of sturdy backpacks and laptop cases have also increased, he said.

Queensland University of Technology Associate Professor Gary Mortimer, who specialises in retail, said the back-to-school rush provides retailers with a much needed boost.

“The back to school sales period really is an opportunity for retailers to kick off the year on a positive footing,” he said.

Mr Robinson said more parents are using options such as interest free and flexi-rent finance plans as sales of computers have climbed.

The Commonwealth Bank survey also found almost one third of families are using ‘buy now pay later’ options, such as Afterpay, to manage back to school purchases.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said stocking kids for the classroom can be expensive, but savvy parents who shop for the best deals can minimise the outlay.

“Every year we see an increase in back to school supplies online, and with many parents now back at full-time or part-time work, online platforms provide parents with the convenience and flexibility they need to prepare their children for the new school year,” he said.

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