Shoppers are spending more than $100 more on electronics, clothes and school supplies this back-to-school shopping season than they did last year. That’s according to RetailMeNot’s latest data. To get a read on how families are navigating back-to-school shopping this year, we asked 1,000 consumers to discover which trends and spending habits are defining the 2023-2024 school year.
Among our findings:
- The primary stressors this season concern the price of products, with budget pressures from a year of inflation affecting shoppers.
- At the same time, parents sending kids back to school are planning to spend more on average this year than they did last year: $1,498, up $251 year over year.
- More than 80% of families plan to shop for back-to-school items both online and in stores.
- Big box stores/superstores are this year’s go-to destination for back-to-school shopping.
Back-to-School Budgets Are Bigger This Year: What Families Are Spending and Buying
This year, the average spend for back-to-school shoppers is projected to increase, compared to 2022. In our survey, parents sending kids back to school said they plan to spend, on average, $1,498 across all their back-to-school spending.
An average of $251 of that will go toward school supplies alone (a $50 increase year over year — shoppers planned to spend an average of $192 on school supplies in 2022).
A couple more categories are also seeing upticks in spending:
- Shoppers plan to spend an average of $377 on electronics (up from $353 last year). This is a reversal from last year, when customers pulled back on electronics spending year over year amid inflation (spending $100 less than they did in 2021).
- Shoppers plan to spend an average of $357 on clothing (up from $320 last year).
Top Products for Back-to-School Shoppers in 2023
When it comes to what shoppers are planning to purchase, small electronics (like calculators and headphones), clothing, shoes and writing supplies rank as top priorities for this year.
Below, see the percentages of shoppers who say they plan on buying the following items:
Top Clothing Items for Back to School
- Shoes and socks: 85%
- Shirts, pants, skirts and dresses: 78%
- Jackets & outerwear: 62%
- Accessories (e.g., jewelry, hats): 38%
- Pajamas and sleepwear: 30%
- School uniform: 23%
Top Electronics for Back to School
- Calculator: 43%
- Headphones: 43%
- Electronic accessories: 28%
- Tablet: 20%
- Laptop computer: 20%
- Phone: 17%
- Software subscription: 14%
- Printer: 13%
- Video games and consoles: 13%
- Smart watch: 11%
- Television & TV accessories: 10%
Top School Supplies for Back to School:
- Writing supplies: 81%
- Paper and organization: 75%
- School bags: 72%
- Art supplies: 48%
- Athletic supplies: 42%
- Space utilization (e.g., locker, desk): 21%
- Music/dance supplies: 15%
Price Fuels Top Back-to-School Shopping Stress This Season
According to our survey, the primary back-to-school stressors continue to concern the price of products as well as budgeting. This year, 46% of shoppers (up from 40% in 2022) say the amount they’ll have to spend is their biggest source of stress. Meanwhile, 36% (up from 35% last year) say they’re stressed about making the most of their budgets.
Top Back-to-School Stressors
- Cost of supplies: 46% (vs. 40% in 2022)
- Making the most of my budget: 36% (vs. 35% in 2022)
- Dealing with crowds in stores: 35% (vs. 35% in 2022)
- Finding the best deals: 29%
- Items out of stock: 29%
- Fear I can’t afford required items: 28%
- Finding time to shop: 18%
- Finding the best supplies: 16%
- Shipping delays: 15%
According to our survey, most parents also seek to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their purchases, beyond looking at the price tags.
Priorities Valued By Parents in 2023
- Using my budget efficiently: 62%
- Knowing kids are happy with items: 55%
- Buying quality/durable items: 49%
- Buying items that give my kids a performance boost in school: 35%
- Spending as little as possible: 31%
As a result, parents will continue to strategize this year. More than half (58%) say they’ll research products online before making a purchase, and 55% will research products in-store while making a purchase.
Most parents also stated that they share the back-to-school deals they’ve discovered, with 61% doing so through social media: Facebook is the top platform used (43%), followed by Instagram (25%) and YouTube (22%). Socialization via social media, however, is more common for parents under the age of 35 (76% use social media to share deals found).
Big-Box Stores Continue to Pull the Most Back-to-School Shoppers
According to our survey, nearly all parents of minors are involved in back-to-school shopping — and 96% report their children also participate.
With children involved in the process, consolidating shopping is a priority, meaning most parents are choosing large, multipurpose stores for supplies. Similar to last year, survey participants stated that big box stores/superstores are their go-to retailers when it comes to purchasing school supplies (71%), clothing (61%) and electronics (56%).
This year, we are also seeing an equal amount of interest in shopping both online and in stores, with more than 80% of families stating that they plan to shop for back to school both online and in physical stores.
Back-to-School Shoppers Continue to Get an Early Start
One way to stay on budget and score the best prices is to maximize the time to find deals. And it appears shoppers are doing just that this season: 35% told us before the summer they planned to start shopping for school in July, which let them take advantage of Amazon Prime Day and all its deals on school supplies, electronics and clothing. Our data also found that 76% of those who planned to shop Prime Day were looking for back-to-school items. Here’s when shoppers told us they planned to start back-to-school shopping this year:
- June: 14%
- July: 35%
- August: 35%
Back-to-School Shopping Tips
- Stack sales with other discounts: Take advantage of shopping the back-to-school sales by downloading cash back browser extensions like RetailMeNot’s Deal Finder to find and automatically apply the best coupons on top of cash back offers on every purchase at top stores to stack your savings!
- Check out tax-free weekends: Many states lift sales taxes for a few days during August. It’s timed for back-to-school shopping, but it’s not limited to kids’ stuff. Check your state’s website to see when your tax holiday kicks in, and pick up clothing, office supplies and (in some states) electronics purchases without paying any sales tax.
- Join your favorite retailer’s program: Some retailers save their best discounts for their rewards members. For example, in 2023, Target is offering students who are Circle members a 20% discount on an entire purchase through Aug. 26. And Amazon is offering Prime members 20% off school supply purchases of over $50.
- Start looking for deals early: Spread out your spending and broaden your opportunities to find deals by starting … now! We’re already spotting great deals on electronics, dorm decor, bedding and supplies.
Ziff Davis Shopping Shopper Survey: Back-to-School, Prime Day and Summer Occasions. Among adults (18+) who are retail shoppers: N=1,000, fielded April 10, 2023.
The post Back-to-School Shopping By the Numbers: Trends for the 2023-24 School Year appeared first on The Real Deal by RetailMeNot.