Back to school shopping is still happening—but these stats show it will be very different…
Our recent Retail’s New Reality trend report explored what some of the upcoming shopping seasons could look like, and found that 64% of students and Millennial parents are potential back to school shoppers this year—with 39% of 13-39-year-olds saying that they plan to back to school shop this year, and 25% saying they are not yet sure if they will need to. In 2019, 59% of young consumers told YPulse that they went back to school shopping—so this year could very well be as strong as last, despite uncertainty around what school will actually consist of. That’s potentially great news for retailers.
We shared some of our early data on how young consumers and parents were feeling about back to school, including how many weren’t sure if they would need to back to school shop at all due to COVID-19. But increasingly, it’s looking like back to school shopping will happen—but it’s going to look very different.
Interestingly, 33% of back to school shoppers say that they will be doing their shopping earlier than usual or that they have already done it. It’s possible that students and young parents want to be prepared for any situation, and are shopping early to be ready for whatever the fall brings.
So, the potential bad news is clear with over two and five back to school shoppers predicting that they will spend less than they usually do. But it’s very important to note that a combined 51% say they will spend the same amount or more than usual, with almost a quarter predicting they will spend more. In other words, there is certainly opportunity here, and even a likelihood that spending could match last year’s overall thanks to those who are forecasting that they will increase their back to school shopping spend.
Almost three in five back to school shoppers say that they plan to buy supplies for at home learning. This is an enormous takeaway for retailers and brands. Back to school shoppers are not just looking for their usual supplies, they likely believe that they will need to be either attending school from home, or managing their children’s remote education. Notably, over half also say that they will be buying supplies for going to school in person, indicating that they either want to be prepared for both scenarios, or are expecting a hybrid model of education where kids are both going into schools, and remote learning depending on the day or week.
When we delved deeper into the kinds of specific supplies they’re planning to buy, traditional items top the list, but a significant amount plan to buy items that would not have been on their lists in previous years:
Over a third of back to school shoppers plan to purchase personal protection items like face masks, antibacterial hand sanitizers and wipes, and gloves as part of their back to school shopping. That’s not too surprising, considering the fears around going back into classrooms. But three in ten tell us that they plan to buy tech for at home learning, while a quarter plan to buy supplies to create a “classroom” at home. Brands who can help parents feel prepared for the fall with items that will allow them to organize and run their own mini-schools at home could win big this year.