Holy Cow! Back to School Shopping


Wiki is the source of all things obscure. Really, really obscure. Take the term, Holy Cow! Wiki reports Holy Cow! is linked to other Midwest expressions like Holy Buckets!, Holy Cats!, and Holy Mike! – – all being euphemisms for a biblical reference to a certain Savior with the initials J.C.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers uses a similar term, Holy Mackerel!, even though mackerels are found in oceans, far from the Midwest and Great Lakes. His background as a lifelong science teacher, school principal, district superintendent, and Wisconsin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction no doubt shaped his favorite exclamation.

Longtime baseball broadcaster Harry Caray used Holy Cow! when his beloved Chicago Cubs would hit a dramatic homer or make a timely defensive play. Wiki says on other occasions Harry used the phrase to prevent himself from lapsing into vulgarity because the Cubs were a perennial bad team. Defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory on more than one occasion. Faithful Cubs fans promised, “What ‘til next year.”

Holy Cow!, the summer has flown by. Just a short while ago, school lockers and college dorms/apartments were being cleaned out. The next moment, summer rec programs ended and the last Walking Taco was consumed at one of many community festivals in Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley.

Community elders use the telltale signs of later sunrises and earlier sunsets to mark an impending event. The event in question is not the start of NFL training camps, nor is it the upcoming archery season. It’s back to school shopping.

Moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, children, and young adults will help make back to school/college shopping a record-setting activity in 2023. Holy Cow! This bold forecast comes from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and its mid-July press release. The NRF says back to school (K-12) spending will reach $41.5 billion, up from last year’s $36.9 billion and the previous high spending mark of $37.1 billion in 2021. Back to college spending is expected to hit $94 billion, about $20 billion more than last year’s record. Throw in a Cow! Buckets! Cats! Mike! and a Mackerel! That’s serious cash.

The NRF predicts $890 per household will be spent on K-12 back to school items and $1,367 per household for college items. Both are records and worthy of another Holy Cow!

The NRF says the increases are primarily driven by a greater demand for electronics. Total electronics spending is expected to reach $15.2 billion, making it another record. And another Holy Cow! Top purchases are laptops, tablets, and calculators. Apparently, education has come a long way since a granite slab, chisel, and candle. Big ticket items for the college crowd include electronics, dorm or apartment/home furnishings, and food plan accounts.

Back to school/college buying seems like a team effort, meaning students with part-time jobs can contribute something to the effort. While America is a country with great opportunities, the right to purchase $150 jeans cannot be found in the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, or Constitution.

Whether it’s a Holy Cow! or a Mackerel!, resilient consumers are reminded to pace themselves. Bills eventually come due and paying them with interest charges is like paying twice.

Here’s to the impending first hour bell. Students, it cometh soon.