Good news for physical retailers in Shopkick’s back-to-school survey

Marianne Wilson
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Back to school supplies

Consumers have bigger budgets and are planning to shop in stores when it comes to buying back-to-school supplies, with big-box stores expected to benefit the most.

Nearly all (92%) of this year’s back-to-school shoppers plan to make their purchases in physical retailers, according to an annual survey by shopping rewards app Shopkick. It’s a noticeable increase compared to last year, when 66% of shoppers said they would shop in-store. 

The survey also found that big-box stores will garner the most back-to-school sales. Nearly all of the consumers  who plan to do their back-to-school shopping in-store will do so at a big-box store, a similar result to last year. Other popular retailers include dollar stores (40%), office supply stores (37%) and off-price retailers (35%).  

With most (72%) families preparing for a full return to classroom learning this fall, families are ready to shell out more on supplies. This year, the largest segment of shoppers (42%) plan to spend between $101 to $300 on back-to-school items.

Apparel will be a hot category, with 60%  of consumers planning to spend most of their back-to-school budgets on apparel, trailed by basic school supplies (24%), technology (10%), dorm furnishings (4%) and books (3%).  

Other findings from the Shopkick survey are below.

  • Consumers are eager to get a head start on back-to-school shopping, with 19% who say they have already started. However, many (42%)) plan to shop one month prior to the first day of school, followed by 28% planning for two months prior and only 8% planning for one week prior.
  • Health and safety remain top of mind, with 90% of consumers planning to add COVID-19 precautionary supplies to their carts.  Such items include hand sanitizer (79%), cleaning wipes (71%), masks (61%), paper products (55%) and disposable cutlery for lunchtime (21%).
  • Eighty-five percent of Americans say they will use their mobile devices while shopping, for everything from comparing prices to making mobile purchases.

“While Americans prepare for this back-to-school season in different ways than last year, some habits are sticking around,” said Dave Fisch, general manager of Shopkick. “Retailers must be ready for an influx of in-store shopping without neglecting the omnichannel, mobile experiences consumers have grown accustomed to.”