A National Retail Federation poll finds that 29 percent of households with children ages 6 to 17 plan to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year—up from 24 percent in 2014.
That jump is mirrored by an expected increase in spending on college-bound students, with the federation results finding that 30 percent of households with a child or dependent attending college this fall plan to spend more. That's an increase of 7 percentage points.
But there's a catch.
A separate study by America's Research Group found that 58 percent of parents said they would buy only the bare minimum during the traditional back-to-school season, and wait to finish their purchases during the hyper-promotional winter holidays. That's up from 50 percent last year.
"Consumers do not feel the deals on back to school are as hot as they once were," said Britt Beemer, the group's chairman.
This game of chicken is one of the biggest challenges facing retailers during the back-to-school selling season, which is second only to the holidays for traffic and sales.
But contrary to Christmas or Hanukkah, which have shopping deadlines, back-to-school buying is much more "nebulous," Wunderlich Securities retail analyst Eric Beder told CNBC last week.