Back-to-School Spending Projected to Break Records, but Consumers Are Shifting What They Buy

They're expecting to spend more on computers and less on clothes

computer and tablet with
Parents are expecting to spend more on electronics to prepare for remote learning. Pixabay

While there’s still a lot of uncertainty around how students will be returning to school this fall and in what capacity amid the pandemic, parents are expecting to spend more than ever to prepare for the possibility of remote learning.

Two reports released this month—one by the National Retail Federation and another by Morning Consult—showed that families are expecting to spend more than previous back-to-school shopping seasons to get students ready. Most of that, according to both surveys, comes in the form of electronics, laptops and computer accessories that students will need in order to participate in courses online.

“By any measure, this is an unprecedented year with great uncertainty, including how students will get their education this fall whether they are in kindergarten or college,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement.

Shay added that while parents want their kids to be prepared and have access to education, they don’t know whether their kids “will be sitting in a classroom or in front of a computer in the dining room, or a combination of the two.”

Families are expecting to spend nearly $100 more than the previous back-to-school spending record this year.
NRF

While they are expecting to have to spend more, 54% of families surveyed by the NRF don’t know what they’ll need for school in the fall because plans aren’t yet solidified at the school district level. Only 10% of respondents said they’d already received a list of school supplies in early July, though 40% expected to get them by the end of the month, and 30% expected them to come by the end of August.

Back-to-college spending is expected to jump by over $80 per family.
NRF
Of those surveyed by NRF, 36% said they expect to have to buy a laptop this year.
NRF

Parents are also planning to do less comparison shopping at brick-and-mortar stores and more online shopping, according to Morning Consult’s report, likely due to the risk of Covid-19 associated with in-person browsing. Of those surveyed, 44% said they’ll be doing more of their back-to-school shopping online due to the pandemic.

Compared to last year, more parents said they’d only be shopping at one or two stores for school supplies, rather than three or more.


@klundster kathryn.lundstrom@adweek.com Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.
Publish date: July 23, 2020 https://stage.adweek.com/commerce/back-to-school-spending-projected-to-break-records-but-consumers-are-shifting-what-they-buy/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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