Retail

Back-to-School Shopping is Status Quo: Most Shoppers are Spending About the Same This Year

Image Credit: Photo by Jessica Lewis

Back-to-school shopping – which used to be done in the immediate days leading up to the first day of school – is now happening in the immediate days after the end of the last school year. Much like every other “holiday” celebrated by retail, ‘tis the season earlier and earlier.

But not everyone is gung-ho to fill up those pencil boxes toot suite. In fact, less than a third of American parents started school shopping before August 1. Nearly three out of five parents plan to get it done in August, and there’s still 12% of us who are more than willing to wait for the last possible moment.

Looking at a few year-over-year comparisons, Americans plan to actually slightly pull back on the idea of spending more on back-to-school spending, but more people plan to spend about the same.

Additionally, online BTS shopping is also completely flat. Year over year, the number of American BTS shoppers who plan to do half of their school year shopping online went down ever so slightly, but it was not statistically significant. The major takeaway here is: BTS shopping is experiential and it’s hard to compete with that online.

So who is spending more money? Who is shopping online? Who is already ready for the school year? Here’s a breakdown of some noteworthy items from our survey.

PRIME TIME

While brick-and-mortar stores still dominate the back-to-school market, it’s very clear that Amazon is starting to make serious headway into the space. In fact, Amazon account holders with Prime memberships are twice as likely as non-Prime members to do at least half of their school shopping online this year.

NETFLIX AND CHILL OUT, IT’S NOT TIME FOR SCHOOL YET

The “why” escapes the data, but people who watch Netflix at least weekly are significantly more likely to have already started shopping for back-to-school stuff than monthly or non-users of the service.

PHONING IT IN

Americans who make purchases on their smartphones at least a dozen times a year are nearly four times as likely to make at least half their back-to-school purchases online compared with people who only buy stuff with their phones one to five times per year.

THERE’S ALWAYS A DOZEN OF THEM IN THE BOTTOM OF THE BACKPACK

The most shocking data point? People who never buy Goldfish crackers are almost twice as likely to have already finished their back-to-school shopping compared to people who buy Goldfish at least sometimes. The early bird, in this case, is not interested in catching the worm. That’s on the hook. Or something like that. Metaphors will be better once English Lit starts up again.

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