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Survey: Back-to-school Shopping Stresses Parents Out

While back-to-school season may signal excitement over new classrooms and a fresh wardrobe for most kids, for many parents it means stress around shopping budgets, a change in schedules and managing homework after the long summer break. A survey conducted for Zulily, a retailer focused on all things for moms and kids, finds that the cost of back-to-school shopping tops the list of stresses for parents tied to the new school year. It was cited as a leading cause of stress by 52 percent of parents.

"Getting kids ready for a new school year is a time of transition for most families, from re-establishing a solid routine to fighting the battle over what kids want to wear each morning," says Amy E. Goodman, lifestyle editor at "One of my biggest pieces of advice is to make a plan and stick to it. From bedtime routines to getting outfits ready the night before to figuring out how to organize all those forms, being prepared will keep both parents and kids happy."

Zulily surveyed more than 6,000 parents to get their thoughts about the back-to-school period. It found that 34 percent say they're always shopping for the next school year, while 24 percent start their shopping in July and 26 percent in August.

Additional findings from the study include:

Back-to-school stressors

Getting kids ready and out the door in the morning was a close second to back-to-school costs as a source of stress. When asked to choose their top three stresses about their kids going back to school, parents reported:

Breaking down the budget

The vast majority of parents spend between $50 and $250 per child on clothing. More than seven in 10 plan to keep their shoe budget under $100 per child, and half of parents try to keep spending on school supplies under $50.


  • Under $50: 15 percent
  • $51–$150: 41 percent
  • $151–$250: 29 percent
  • $251 and over: 15 percent


  • Under $50: 37 percent
  • $51–$100: 35 percent
  • $101 or more: 27 percent

School supplies

  • Under $50: 52 percent
  • $51–$100: 28 percent
  • $101 or more: 20 percent

Two for you; one for me

About one-quarter of parents, 26 percent, plan to spend more on their back-to-school shopping this year than in years past, while 14 percent will spend less, and 60 percent plan to spend about the same amount. More than half of parents admitted to picking up clothes to refresh their own wardrobe while shopping for new school clothes for their kids.

"While the cost of shopping can be stressful for parents, back-to-school shopping should be fun for everyone involved," Goodman says. "From colorful camo to galaxy-inspired designs, there are plenty of fun prints and patterns on trend for fall shopping."

According to Zulily, five of the top trends for the new school year include:

  • Something wild: From faux fur capelets and moccasins for girls to hoodies for boys emblazoned with jungle creatures, wild looks are big.
  • Galaxy: Starscapes, planets and other space-themed prints are making their way onto clothing and accessories alike.
  • '90s flashbacks: They say that if you've lived through a trend once, not to wear it a second time around, which is why today's schoolkids are the only ones cute enough to pull off '90s-inspired looks, including leather motorcycle boots paired with plaid flannel shirts.
  • Camo cool: From backpacks and binders to shoes and jackets, expect to see camouflage prints in a wide variety of colors in school hallways.
  • London calling: Puffers, pea coats and hooded jackets paired with textured wool and corduroy will keep kids on this side of the pond warm when fall's crisp temperatures return.

Zulily features a curated collection for the whole family, including clothing, home decor, toys, gifts and more. Unique products from up-and-coming brands are featured alongside favorites from top brands, giving customers something new to discover each morning. Zulily was launched in 2010 and is headquartered in Seattle with offices in Reno, Nevada; Columbus, Ohio; and London.