Change Language | Region*
American flag

*Products and services featured on our websites are only available to residents of the selected country.

Set your homepage

Home Personal BankingWealth Management Small BusinessCommercial Corporate & InstitutionalAbout BMO
<< Back to News Releases
2014 BMO Back to School Survey: Upwards of 2 Million Post-Secondary Students Planning to Spend an Average of $1,121

- One of the busiest shopping periods of the year

- Only one-third of post-secondary students relying on family and friends for financial assistance

- BMO Economics: total retail sales are expected to climb 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent this back-to-school season

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 18, 2014) - According to the inaugural BMO Post-Secondary Student Survey, university and college students expect to spend, on average, $1,121 this year on back-to-school purchases.

The survey, conducted by Pollara, also revealed which, if any, of the following products post-secondary students say they will need to purchase before the start of the 2014 semester:

  • Nearly all students will be purchasing textbooks (88 per cent);
  • More than half (58 per cent) will be buying new clothes;
  • Two-fifths (41 per cent) plan to make a technology purchase, mostly in the form of computers (38 per cent) rather than mobile devices (7 per cent); and
  • One-fifth (20 per cent) intend to purchase furniture.

"With the back-to-school season in full-swing, many retailers that sell back-to-school supplies can expect to see a boost to their bottom line, as Canadian post-secondary students are expected to spend a significant amount of money before the start of the fall semester," said Paul Kyte, Vice President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Retailers that offer loyalty or rewards programs could reap the rewards of post-secondary students looking to make the most of their budget."

"Back-to-school shopping is among the most important and highest profile seasons for Canadian retailers. Total retail sales are expected to climb 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent year over year in 2014, with a similar gain anticipated for the back-to-school season," said Benjamin Reitzes, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "The importance of attaining a post-secondary education has increased consistently over the past few decades, with about two million students creating a growing market for retailers. This trend is expected to continue as the focus on higher education will only sharpen in the years ahead."

Regional Differences

The survey also found pronounced regional differences when it came to the amount of money post-secondary students expect to spend on back-to-school supplies:

  • Albertans expect to spend the most ($1,236), followed by Ontario post-secondary students ($1,204)
  • Those in the Prairies expect to spend the least on supplies for the start of school ($857)
  • University and college students in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia are the most likely to buy new clothes (60 per cent); those in the Prairies are the least likely (48 per cent)

Few Students Relying on Family for Financial Assistance

The BMO Post-Secondary Student Survey also asked post-secondary students how they will be paying for products required for the school year:

  • One-third (34 per cent) will pay for back to school expenses using loans or scholarships;
  • One-quarter (27 per cent) will pay using credit, with the intent to pay back later; and
  • Thirty per cent will have the assistance of family or friends.

2014 Back-to-School Prices*

Category Approximate Total Cost
Textbooks / supplies
Textbooks, pens/pencils, paper, sticky notes, highlighters, notebooks, organizer and binders
$800 - $1200 per semester
Pair of jeans, 2 shirts, a sweater, pair of running shoes and 3 pairs of socks and undergarments
$300 to $500
Total Back-to-School Budget: $1100 - $1700
Additional Item: Technology
Computer or computer accessories; tablets
$1000 - $1600
Additional Item: Furniture
Chair, desk and a single-bed
$200 - $1000
Total Back-to-School Budget (with additional items): $1200 - $2600

*Based on an internet sampling of major retailers' current sale prices for back-to-school supplies

The Pollara online survey was completed between August 1st and August 8th, 2014, with a sample of 600 Canadian post-secondary students. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to +/- 4.0 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services organization based in North America. The bank offers a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers. BMO Financial Group had total assets of $582 billion and more than 45,500 employees at April 30, 2014.

For further information:
Media Contacts:
Russell Baker, Toronto
(416) 867-3996

Valerie Doucet, Montreal
(514) 877-8224

Twitter: @BMOmedia

Market Watch
As of
Last Change   
TSX Comp