For all the parents who have spent four years gritting their teeth and writing checks to pay for their kids’ college tuition — sorry, you’re not done yet. This year’s crop of graduates are going to be raking in a record $4.8 billion in graduation gifts, according to the National Retail Federation's annual survey.
The NRF has been tracking spending on college graduation gifts for a decade now, and the outlay has never been higher.
After hanging out below $4 billion from 2009 through 2011, Americans’ collective spending on graduation gifts shot up in 2012. Last year, people gave $4.7 billion in graduation gifts, the survey’s previous record. The amount spent by each individual on graduation gifts also hit a new high this year, rising from a tick under $98 last year to $102.50 this year, and the average graduation gift-giver is shopping for two people — so those new grads will have to share the wealth.
Cash is the most popular gift — more than half plan to give it — so it’s possible some of this largess could be going towards the student loan debts many of these young adults have accumulated over the past four years. But the Benjamins are just the tip of the iceberg: More than 40% will give new grads congratulatory cards, about 30% will give gift cards, 13% will give clothes (that interview outfit might be a subtle hint) and more than 10% will buy them electronic gadgets, an increase over the 8% who bought new grads shiny new devices last year.
NRF results show that the ones giving the most green might be mom and dad: More than 60% of people between the ages of 45 and 54 who plan to give graduation gifts will give cash, and they’ll spend an average of $126.43. Older adults are also more likely than the overall pool of gift-givers to give gift cards.