Back to School by the Numbers


Summer may not officially end until the solstice on September 21st, but that doesn’t mean the back to school frenzy will wait until then. All over the United States, young students and their parents are stocking up on everything they need to get the school year off to a productive (and hopefully fun!) start. And it turns out that what they need adds up to some pretty big numbers.

75.7 million students – from the youngest starting at preschool to the oldest heading to grad school classes – will be headed back to school this year. 9.8 million teachers and other staff will be there to welcome them, while 1.77 million home-school students will be welcomed by their parents.

Around 50% of kids take one of the 460,000 school buses in the U.S. to get to class; in one school year, they’ll drive 5.76 billion miles altogether.

Advertisers spent an estimated $241 million dollars on back to school advertising in 2014; while that number is expected to go down this year, it will still be a huge sum – the back-to-school period is one of the most lucrative times of year for consumer spending, second only to the winter holiday season through Black Friday and Christmas. What age group buys the most? $24.9 billion dollars will be spent on kids from kindergarten to 12th grade, while $43.1 billion is spent on college students.

Upwards of $8 billion is spent at clothing stores for a new fall wardrobe, while about $1.6 billion is spent at bookstores. The average family will spend $630 on school supplies and wardrobe for their students; 62% of them will be shopping at discount stores. The average teenager will spend $33 of their own money on their school supplies.

More than 330 million classic, yellow #2 pencils are sold to students every year; if you were to draw a straight line with one of them, it could stretch for 35 miles before running out (you could also just use it to write 45,000 words). A typical ballpoint pen, on the other hand, can only draw between 4,000 and 7,500 feet.


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