With the end of holidays fast approaching, it can be a busy time for families preparing for the return to school.
It can also be an expensive time, with parents bracing themselves for a spending splurge on uniforms and shoes, stationery, laptops and other items.
While a large number of parents often provide some school supplies and equipment as Christmas presents, one third will conduct their back to school shops in January.
But for Lithgow mum Becca West, in NSW's Central Tablelands, she plans to recycle from previous years for her high school and primary age children.
"You can easily save on things like pencils and textas, by recycling from the previous year. A majority of contents seem unused and stay in great condition," she said.
She said to recycle she sharpens pencils, tests textas and checks what's left in glue sticks.
"I save heaps [of stationery] but so many throw away because it's easier than the recycling process... I have a container of pencils and more that are nearly brand new," she said.
Fellow mum Jessica Bates said she looked for sales when it came to back to school shopping.
"A lot of shops have sales on for clothing and textas, pencils and other supplies are quite cheap," she said.
"I believe it could possibly be costly if you don't look for specials or sales."
Ms Bates also looked for back to school packs which vary in costs.
"I found a pack suitable for my son for $30 which included books, textas and pencils," she said.
For school uniform shopping, Denise Nightingale said the first purchase of uniforms was expensive but for future years, there was access to school clothing pools.
"These often have very good quality clothes that you can purchase," she said.
She said she liked to spend a little extra on good quality shoes for her children.
"Shoes are my dearest as I like to have good quality shoes that last the year."
Sally Lords believed it was kindergarten and the first year of high school that was costly for a lot of parents.
"It can be costly depending on your circumstances we can't speak for everyone and no one should judge others, some people may not be able to afford brand new due to certain circumstances," she said.
To know what kind of costs parents may face, BIG W have launched their annual 'Back to School' report which provides families an insight into back to school shopping behaviours and spending habits.
Key findings from the report include:
- A total spend per child of $970, an increase of 12 per cent from last year
- An average of $592 will be spent on school supplies such as uniforms, stationery, bags and lunchboxes, up from $538
- 73 per cent of parents said value for money was the most important factor when shopping
- Quality of products was a major concern for 53 per cent of parents
This years report also highlighted the increasing costs of technology and sports within schools with parents expecting to spend on average:
- $284 per child on tech items, an increase of 17 per cent
- $94 per child on sports gear, an increase of 12 per cent
Head of Everyday and Home at BIG W, Mitch Armitt, said following what was a difficult 2020, many families were feeling pressure to manage their budgets.
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"Whilst Australian parents are expecting to spend more this year on getting their kids back to school, we know that household budgets still remain tight, which is why we've been working hard to bring families great value with quality items from just $1," he said.
"At BIG W, it's possible to get all your school essentials for less than $200 including stationery, lunchbox, water bottle, school bag and uniforms".
In 2020, one in three families had to buy more technology products such as laptops and tablets, while 20 per cent had to purchase furniture including chairs and desks.
Kurt Boundy, Telco Sales Coordinator for JB HiFi in Bathurst, said that the technology requirements might be even higher in 2021 following a strong push towards online learning and the possibility of studying from home again should further COVID restrictions occur.
"A lot of people leave it late to purchase back to school items but they should be looking now because a lot of items will sell out over the coming weeks," he said.
"When coronavirus hit last year we saw a huge increase in sales of computers and home office equipment and we are seeing that again now.
"With some supply issues on a few brands due to COVID, families really need to do their research and purchase before they possibly miss out.
"A lot of schools provide a "must have" list, particularly when it comes to tech and IT requirements, so bring that in with you and staff can help find the best technology solutions to suit your needs."