The following is a preview from a recent three-part series focusing on back-to-school shopping habits and the socioeconomic forces impacting families, available in full to CivicScience clients. Want access to in-depth consumer insights like these? Start here.

As a new school year begins, most consumers say they’ve finished their back-to-school shopping. But that’s certainly not true for everyone – about 2-in-5 consumers say they still have some supplies left to get (as of September 18th). What are other consumer insights CivicScience data has to offer around back-to-school shopping? Here are three key highlights from the latest and final installment of the CivicScience Back-to-School Report:

1. The extensive impacts of pandemic-driven learning loss continue to hit home.

As we’ve seen since the beginning of the back-to-school season, learning loss has been a significant concern for parents. The latest CivicScience data find about half of adults with school-aged children say their student(s) are struggling in at least one subject area, with the most common being in math (25%) and reading and writing (21%).

Additional data show learning loss is shaping how consumers approach back-to-school shopping: Households with children struggling in at least one subject are 11 percentage points more likely to plan on purchasing new tech (such as laptops or tablets) for their children and are at least three points more likely to purchase any given tech item (compared to households that don’t have a child struggling in a subject) among the options polled by CivicScience. Parents of children struggling at school are also more likely than average to anticipate spending money this year on academic support services, such as tutoring. 

2. Concern for children’s physical safety and emotional well-being at school drives consumer purchasing plans.

Learning loss is far from the only concern weighing heavily on parents this year. Parents also place paramount importance on their children’s general safety and emotional well-being while at school. CivicScience data reveal 82% of parents with school-aged children report being at least ‘somewhat concerned’ about their children’s emotional health and overall well-being, while 78% express a similar level of concern about their child’s physical safety. Given a downward trend in overall emotional well-being, it’s unsurprising to see this is a source of stress for parents.

Much like the concerns surrounding learning loss, parents also appear to be factoring in their children’s well-being and safety when making purchasing decisions for their kids. Those who prioritize their child’s safety and emotional welfare are more inclined than average to consider purchasing new technology, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Smartphones in particular, stand out, perhaps to help parents maintain a line of communication with their children.

3. Online shopping gains an increasingly important role in back-to-school shopping.

Consumers don’t appear to be flocking to physical stores to complete their back-to-school shopping as much. Adults with school-aged children say they’re doing about as much shopping in stores as typical for this time of year. Rather, many are increasingly relying on online shopping to meet their back-to-school needs (much like holiday shoppers). Consumers with children are far more likely to say they’re doing more shopping online than typical right now, and this number has ticked up since last year.

Want to see what’s driving your consumer’s purchasing decisions? Connect with us today to learn more about how CivicScience can help.