Back-to-school spending estimated at $28.1 billion for K-12

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 462 views 

As mid-July approaches families are already thinking about back-to-school shopping and what might be needed given many students may receive some instruction virtually from home.

Deloitte recently surveyed parents of K-12 children and found spending is expected to average $529 per child for a total of $28.1 billion, which is flat to a year ago. A survey on back-to-college spending indicated average outlay of $1,345 per student for a total of $25.4 billion, also about the same as last year.

Deloitte said although back-to-school spending is trending flat overall, they expect retailers should have a good season. Given rising health concerns they expect online shopping will gain share from a year ago rising to 37% of sales, up from 29% in 2019. They expect in-store purchases to account for 43% of the spending share this year.

Deloitte also found 20% of respondents remain undecided on the format for spending, which presents a $5.5 billion untapped opportunity for retailers this season.

Online spending is expected to top $10.4 billion, up 28% from $8.1 billion last year. Further, results indicate emerging shopping technologies such as voice assistants and cashier-less stores are starting to gain traction, with 6% to 15% of back-to-school shoppers planning to use at least one format.

Despite in-store spending projected to decline 22% from $15.7 billion in 2019 to $12.2 billion in 2020, 43% of total spending is projected to take place in-store, Deloitte noted. In fact, as consumers shift to contactless formats, 26% of survey respondents plan to use Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store (BOPIS) more frequently.

Deloitte surveyed parents on what products they plan to purchase as part of their back-to-school shopping and technology items such as personal computers, tablets and smartphones are set to increase 28% from last year with expecting spending of $488 per family. Parents are spending 17% less on clothing, accessories and school supplies this year, but K-12 families plan to spend an average of $336 on the items as students return to school next month.

Added to this year’s shopping list are personal health products like sanitizer wipes and masks with families expected to spend about $46 per student.

Deloitte said as with years past, 81% of respondents prefer mass merchants for back-to-school shopping, but they may lose some share this year as more people expect to shop closer to home because of the pandemic. Consumers are also looking at prices (82%) and convenience (80%) and safety (59%) is important considerations.

Despite the uncertainty on when and how schools will open, about 40% of respondents intend to start their school shopping four to six weeks before school begins, with late July and early August being the busiest and accounting for $16.2 billion in seasonal spending.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday (July 9) Arkansas schools may reopen between Aug. 24-26, pushing the required start back from Aug. 13.