What will be the biggest back to school shopping trends of 2022 in the United States, and how will this school shopping season differ from past years? That’s what we wanted to find out.
- Back-to-school (BTS) shoppers are likely the same shoppers as weekly grocery shoppers, but they are shopping differently.
- Inflation and a commodity approach to BTS goods is leading to needs-based/price-based decisions. BTS shoppers largely see school supplies as a commodity, meaning price and value are key drivers of purchase decisions this year.
- Our data shows that this will be a highly competitive BTS season for retailers to attract this valuable shopper base.
- Online having more of an impact on supplies and apparel than in grocery (despite the “buyer” overlap.)
- Three-fourths plan to spend the same or less on BTS – there’s going to be a price war for these valuable shoppers. Ancillary value to these shoppers is meaningful, as 58% are going to buy other goods while doing their BTS shopping.
Last year, InMobi research around the 2021 back-to-school shopping season found that school shoppers were most likely to say they were buying clothing and accessories – and that they plan to spend $250 or more on elementary school students and at least $850 on college students. Further, InMobi’s 2021 survey found that back to school shoppers plan to spend more money shopping online via mobile devices than they would spend in person.
Similarly, numbers released by the National Retail Federation in July 2021 predicted that “[f]amilies with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $848.90 on school items, which is $59 more than last year.”
All of these numbers point to the optimism consumers had heading into the 2021-2022 school year. At the time, it seemed like remote learning was finally a thing of the past, with a return to in-person learning imminent or in full swing across the country.
What, then, is the year-over-year prognosis for back-to-school shoppers? Compared to last year’s optimism, shopping overall this year continues to be colored by inflation, ongoing supply chain issues, labor shortages and more. Are consumers ready to spend this back-to-school season?
That’s what we wanted to find out. Earlier this year, we polled over 1,000 consumers across the country using InMobi Pulse, InMobi’s mobile market research solution, to see how they were thinking about and buying school supplies.
Here’s what we uncovered.
- Although in person is still the top purchase method for school supplies (83% said so, which is six points higher than what we observed in 2021), third-party apps (30%), websites (24%) and store apps (19%) had large shares of usage.
- Online shopping for school supplies is similar to 2021 trends. This shows that there is growing comfort with a return to in-person shopping, but also that online is here to stay.
- 40% of back-to-school shoppers are likely to purchase bundled supply kits. Directionally, parents of Pre-K/K students are most likely to buy kits (49%).
- 60% said they have bought snacks for themselves or for their children for use in school, while 50% said the same thing about apparel.
Understanding Overall School Spending Habits
Based on our data, it’s reasonable to assume that school spending is expected to increase somewhat this year.
One in four said they already have spent more on school supplies in 2022 compared with 2021, while 22% said they spent less money.
- Close to a third said they have spent more on apparel this year compared with the previous year, while 18% have spent less.
- 38% said they spent more on snacks in 2022 compared with 2021, while 17% said they spent less money.
Understanding School Supplies Buying Habits
Overall, 59% said they have recently bought school supplies for themselves or for their children. For those with children in middle school, that figure shoots up to 70%.
The vast majority (83%) of these purchases happen in person, with 24% using a store’s website. Further, 30% said they use a third-party website or app (like Amazon) while 19% use a store’s own app.
This year, we also wanted to ask about school supply kits, in which multiple related items are bundled together. The research showed that 40% would be likely or highly likely to buy these kits – and for those with younger children, the percentage jumps up to 49%.
The top choice by far for purchasing school supplies is Walmart, with two-thirds of shoppers saying they would be turning to Walmart. Other top options included Target (36%), Amazon (31%) and Dollar General (29%).
School Supply Shopping Motivators:
- Price (61%)
- Availability of Certain Items (42%)
- Promotions or Discounts (35%)
- Quick Delivery (16%)
- Online Ordering Options (16%)
- Loyalty Program (12%)
Interestingly, school supplies shoppers are not one-track minded. The research found that 58% were likely or highly likely to also buy non-school supplies during their back-to-school shopping.
Understanding Apparel and Snacks Buying Habits
Here’s what our research uncovered around apparel and snacks shopping for school.
- 50% said they have recently bought apparel for themselves or for their children for use in school.
- 79% buy apparel in person, while 31% use a third-party app or website and 23% use a store’s own app.
- 50% buy apparel from Walmart, with other popular options including Target (35%), Amazon (29%), Kohl’s (28%) and Old Navy (28%).
- 60% said they have recently bought snacks for themselves or for their children for use in school.
- 86% buy snacks in person, while 14% use a third-party app or website and 14% use a store’s own app.
- 62% buy snacks from Walmart, with other popular options including Dollar General (27%), Target (25%), Amazon (14%) and Gopuff (5%).
How To Launch a Successful Back-To-School Advertising Campaign
With the back-to-school shopping season about to begin in earnest, what can brands and retailers do to make the most of this time of year? Based on the data from InMobi Pulse, here are some key points to consider.
Target parents, not students. Parents, especially those with younger or middle school-aged children, are much more likely to spend – and spend more – than parents with older kids or students themselves. Many parents are focused on price, so messaging should highlight value.
- Brick and mortar should be an area of focus. Across the board, a lot of back-to-school shopping is likely going to happen in person. For one, that means brands should make sure their brick-and-mortar locations are ready to handle the demand. Brands and retailers should also consider tactics that are proven effective at driving footfall, like mobile ads with custom maps to the nearest store location.
- Digital channels are still vitally important. Even though consumers are back to buying in person, that doesn’t mean that digital channels should be neglected – far from it, in fact. Many consumers will still shop online. Furthermore, digital advertising is often an ideal way to reach consumers; this is especially true with mobile – not only will time spent on mobile rise in 2022, but the fact that it’s always with consumers makes it an ideal marketing channel. Just because shopping is predominantly going to be in stores, according to Pulse results, the product discovery and browsing behavior should still largely be influenced via digital.
What are your thoughts on what our data reveals about 2021 back-to-school shopping trends? Let us know on social media! You can reach out to us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Interested in learning about InMobi, our data and our approach to mobile? Reach out today to speak with one of our mobile experts.
Who spends the most on back to school shopping? ›
Parents are expected to spend, on average, $661 per child in grades K-12 on back-to-school purchases – 8% more than in 2021 ($612) – according to a 2022 Deloitte Back-to-School Survey of 1,200 U.S. parents. Pre-pandemic spending per child was $519 in 2019, the firm found.What types of stores are B2S consumers most shopping at? ›
The B2S season is a regionally staggered period due to schools' varied start dates around the country. The market consists of Athletic, Footwear, Teen and Kids Apparel, and Department Store verticals, which all exhibit meaningfully higher sales volume during this period in the retail calendar.How big is the back to school market? ›
The global back to school market size was valued at USD 171.8 billion in 2021 and is expected to advance at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2% from 2022 to 2028.What is the timeframe for back to school shopping in the US? ›
Timing. Back to school period of time usually starts and ends in August before the school year starts in the United States, Europe, and Canada. In Australia and New Zealand, this usually occurs in February, while in Malaysia, this period lasts from November to December.How much money do parents spend on back to school clothes? ›
|Characteristic||Average spend in U.S. dollars|
|Electronics or computer-related equipment||293.05|
|Clothing and accessories (excluding shoes)||263.63|
Notebooks and folders showed the highest jump at 32%. Among other higher priced items, lunch box prices have increased by 14% to $25 on average, while the cost of backpacks increased by 12% to $70 on average.How much do people spend on back-to-school shopping? ›
Back-to-school spending has increased dramatically since the start of the COVID pandemic. According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on school items. That's about $15 more than last year.How much do people spend on back-to-school? ›
In one recent GOBankingRates survey, most Americans who have to back-to-school shop expect to spend less than $200. However, 33% of shoppers expect to spend between $201 and $400. And another 11% of shoppers may really feel the pinch, planning to spend between $401 and $600.When should u buy school supplies? ›
One of the best times to purchase school supplies is during back-to-school sales tax holidays. Typically held in August, these are days when select school supplies are exempt from state sales tax.How many K 8 students are there in the US? ›
Of the 49.5 million public school students: 34.0 million attended prekindergarten to grade 8.
How much money in total across the US are consumers expected to inject into the economy related to the back-to-school season? ›
Back-to-school spending is expected to reach a new high, up to $34.4 billion for K-12 students, or approximately $661 per student; back-to-college shoppers are expected to spend $28.3 billion, or approximately $1,600 per student.When should you advertise back to school? ›
1. Start early (but remember the latecomers) Don't wait until September to launch your Back to School marketing campaign. Early bird shoppers already start stocking up on supplies in July.Who invented back to school? ›
|Back to School|
|Box office||$91.3 million|
When is the Sales Tax Holiday? Texas' tax-free weekend is set to begin on Friday, August 5, 2022 and will conclude at midnight on Sunday, August 7, 2022. The dates for the sales tax holiday are determined by the Texas state legislature every year.How many sets of clothes does a kid need? ›
With a growing child at home, the minimalist concept is not the best idea, especially if you're a busy parent who doesn't want to spend their days washing clothes! Therefore, your children need an average of nine sets of clothes for today's modern lifestyle.How many outfits does my kid need for school? ›
Jeans: 3 to 5 pairs. Long-sleeved tops: 2 to 4. Pants, shorts, and/or skirts: 2 to 4 pairs. Short-sleeved tops: 4 to 6.Are school uniforms cheaper than regular clothes? ›
While uniforms may be cheaper than non-uniform outfits, they are also an entirely unnecessary and additional expense. Families don't buy uniforms instead of street clothes (because the child needs something to wear when it is isn't at school), they buy them as well as street clothes.How much do people spend on back to school shopping? ›
Back-to-school spending has increased dramatically since the start of the COVID pandemic. According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on school items. That's about $15 more than last year.How much does the average American spend on back to school clothes? ›
Parents must not only deal with spending money for school supplies this time of year, but also the cool new clothes kids are clamoring for. According to The Street, the average household spends over $500 per child on back to school supplies, with clothing and shoes accounting for $285 of that spend.How much do people spend on back to school? ›
In one recent GOBankingRates survey, most Americans who have to back-to-school shop expect to spend less than $200. However, 33% of shoppers expect to spend between $201 and $400. And another 11% of shoppers may really feel the pinch, planning to spend between $401 and $600.
How much money do you spend on school clothes? ›
I would say $50-100 bucks or so before school starts and then an additional $100-200 during the year depending on how much they grow and what they end up needing."