Back to School 2019: 7 Trends to Watch [Infographic]
Before classes start up again, parents and students will be doing some serious back-to-school shopping. It’s estimated that more than half of all school-related purchasing occurs in the summer and early fall.
This intense period of interest in a wide range of products is a powerful opportunity for brands. How can marketers make the most of it? What should they expect to be different this year? And what will be the same?
To find out, check out MDG’s informative infographic, Back to School 2019: 7 Trends to Watch.
1. Spend: Bigger Budgets but Fewer Children
In terms of per-family spend, the good news for brands is that back-to-school budgets are up in 2019.
Average Spend per Family with Elementary and High School Students
- $697 in 2019 ↑
- $685 in 2018
Average Spend per Family with College Students
- $977 in 2019 ↑
- $942 in 2018
The bad news is that fewer children will be in school this year, so overall spend in the US will be down.
Total Spend for Families with Elementary and High School Students
- $26.2 billion in 2019 ↓
- $27.5 billion in 2018
Total Spend for Families with College Students
- $54.5 billion in 2019 ↓
- $55.3 billion in 2018
2. Categories: Clothes and Electronics Are Costly
What will back-to-school spend go toward? Clothing and electronics are the biggest budget-busters.
Average Spend by Category for Families with Elementary and High School Students
- $240 Clothing and Accessories
- $203 Electronics
- $136 Shoes
- $118 Stationery/Supplies
Average Spend by Category for Families with College Students
- $235 Electronics
- $149 Clothing and Accessories
- $120 Dorm/Apartment Furnishings
- $99 Food Items
3. Decision-Making: Kids Have a Big Say
When it comes to who decides what to buy, kids are influential—especially in certain categories.
Share of Moms Who Say Kids Strongly Influence the Purchase Of:
- Clothing and Footwear: 56%
- Groceries: 44%
- School Supplies: 23%
Kids don’t just influence purchases, they also directly control a portion of back-to-school spending.
- The amount of their own money teens spend on back-to-school items, on average: $37
4. Timing: Summer Is for Shopping
When it comes to when back-to-school shopping takes place, summer is the heart of the season.
- 60% of back-to-school shoppers say they start purchasing 4 to 6 weeks before school starts
While the majority of shopping will occur in July and August, many families will purchase earlier and later.
The Most Popular Back-to-School Shopping Periods:
- First two weeks in August
- Last two weeks in July
- Last two weeks in August
- First two weeks in July
- Before July and September (tie)
5. Pricing: Discounts and Sales Are Hugely Influential
Money matters. Discounts and good prices are the biggest drivers of consumers’ back-to-school purchase decisions.
Back-to-School Shoppers Say They’re Primarily Influenced By:
- Sales and discounts
- Competitive prices
Many parents are stressed by the cost of back-to-school shopping and delay purchases until prices drop.
- 53% of moms say that back-to-school purchases strain their budget
- 49% of back-to-school shoppers are willing to wait for the right deals
6. Online vs. In-Store: Behavior Varies by Category
Brick-and-mortar stores are still at the heart of back-to-school shopping, though use of online channels is growing.
Expected Share of 2019 Back-to-School Spend:
- 56% in-store
- 29% online
- 15% up for grabs
Category plays a big role in whether back-to-school shoppers purchase in-store or online.
Expected Share of Back-to-School Spend by Category:
- Clothing and accessories: 62% in-store, 23% online, 15% undecided
- School supplies: 62% in-store, 23% online, 15% undecided
- Computers and hardware: 41% in-store, 45% online, 14% undecided
- Electronic gadgets: 37% in-store, 50% online, 13% undecided
7. Big Changes: Mobile and Amazon Are on the Rise
How is the back-to-school shopping season evolving? One big trend in 2019 is the increasing use of mobile to shop.
Share of Back-to-School Shoppers Using Mobile vs. Desktop:
- 2019: 60% mobile, 42% desktop
- 2018: 53% mobile, 49% desktop
- 2017: 49% mobile, 57% desktop
A second big trend is the increased use of Amazon for back-to-school shopping.
- 74% of moms who shop online for back-to-school items plan to use Amazon
- 59% of back-to-school shoppers checked Prime Day deals on Amazon
Back-to-school shopping in 2019 is similar to previous years in many ways. Clothing is still a big concern for kids and summer remains the heart of the season. But, it’s also different—using mobile devices to shop is on the rise and Amazon is encroaching on many different areas.
For more details on this year’s shopping trends, check out the full infographic, Back to School 2019: 7 Trends to Watch.
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