July isn’t just a big month for importers preparing for the Christmas holiday season. It’s also big business for back to school merchandise. Here’s what you need to know.

Back to School Versus Holiday Imports

Welcome back to school written on a blackboard

July is a big business month for back to school merchandise.

The National Retail Federation reports that holiday imports, followed by school imports, are “the two biggest shopping seasons of the year for retailers.” While holiday merchandise is the clear winner, back to school starts an import wave to the United States in July that continues to increase as holiday imports make their way here.

Fun fact: The National Retail Federation reports that school shopping for school and college age families combined reached $68 billion in 2015.

Back to School Import Influx

School merchandise imports reach their peak in July and August at seaports as retailers race to stock their shelves with everything from backpacks to crayons for parents preparing for the upcoming school year.

The National Retail Federation reports that 54 percent of American households are planning to spend the same as last year or more for back to school merchandise for school age children ages 6 to 17 this year.

Even better? A National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates Global Port Tracker Report states that imported cargo at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to climb 7.3 percent this month compared to last July as retailers stock shelves for back to school imports.

Back to School Breakdown

back to school merchandise

Families spend the most money on electronic back to school items for their children.

In 2015, the average U.S. family spent big bucks on back to school imports. Just how much? On average, a U.S. family with school age children spent $814 in back to school merchandise in 2015.

Families spend the most money on electronic items for their children. Here’s a breakdown of the top back to school imports being purchased:

  • Electronics or computer-related equipment cost $346 per spending family.
  • Clothing costs $235 per spending family
  • Shoes cost $129 per spending family
  • School supplies such as notebooks, folders pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes cost $104 per spending family.

Who is Buying School Imports?

back to school supplies

Back to school shopping for school and college age families reached $68 billion in 2015.

When it comes to buying school imports, no one is too cool for school. Here’s a look at the top U.S. locations where most of your retailers and small business owners sell their seasonal back to school imports:

  • Charleston, West Virginia
  • Eureka, California
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Working to Achieve Import Clearance

If you’re importing school merchandise, you’ll need to attain import clearance from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which will review the imports entry summary for your back to school imports.

To clear customs, you’ll also need to outline how the products are manufactured to determine your duty, or tax classification. Use this duty calculator cheat sheet to crunch your numbers.

back to school imports ship

Retailers race to stock their shelves with everything from backpacks to markers


«       »

AFC International has experienced Licensed Customs Brokers that can file your Import Security Filing (ISF) and other import-entry-related information with U.S. Customs officials, monitoring your imports throughout the imports clearance process. Our value-added customs brokerage services are provided to ensure import clearance success. Call us at 800-274-2329 or get a quote today to get started. AFC Request a Quote box

Leave a Reply

AFC International: Custom Brokerage Support