The annual back-to-school shopping survey results are in, and whether parents and students are planning to buy their supplies online or in-store, weeks or days in advance, one thing stays the same every year – the need to be able to pay for it all. 

Purchasing Power®, the leading employee purchase program offering consumer products and services as a payroll-deducted voluntary benefit at the workplace, wants shoppers to know that back-to-school supplies don’t have to add to their credit card balance. With access to a voluntary benefit in the workplace such as an employee purchase program, workers can use payroll deduction to acquire desired or necessary supplies like computers, tablets, laptops, printers and accessories – even backpacks – and pay for it right from their paycheck through manageable payments. Moreover, there is no credit check, hidden fees or accruing interest associated with the purchase. 

According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF)1 2018 back-to-school survey, total spending for K-12 and college is expected to reach $82.8 billion this year. Families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average $684.79 on apparel and accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies, for a total of $27.5 billion. For college-related purchases, that average spend increases to $942.17 per family.

With an employee purchase program, there are no unwanted surprises for the customer – the price they see when they check out is the price they pay. Purchasing Power CEO Richard Carrano also urges savvy shoppers to weigh seasonal sale discounts carefully vs. the needed time to pay off charges to a credit card.

"The big box store down the street might advertise a lower price on a big-ticket item, but will also demand full payment upfront through cash or credit," notes Carrano. "A $700 credit card balance with a typical 18 percent annual rate, with a minimum payment of $25, would take three years to pay off. Purchasing Power helps employers relieve this financial stress for their workers by offering evenly divided, interest-free payments over the course of 12 months so that customers can plan and budget their spending more easily."

Purchasing Power also provides the convenience of online shopping, which 55% of U.S. shoppers plan to use this year, according to the NRF survey.

Back-to-school can be a time of anxiety and stress for parents juggling a new schedule, fitting in their work and figuring out what to do if their children get sick. Employers who offer workers voluntary benefits like an employee purchase program provide a responsible means to make those necessary back-to-school purchases and help improve their workers’ financial stress.