The top-selling back-to-school items this year will be…

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The top-selling back-to-school items this year will be…

By Marianne Wilson - 07/22/2020

Traditional back-to-school items such as notebooks and backpacks will take a backseat to safety as the products felt to be the most important to buy students.

Consumers expect to spend more on “cleanliness” supplies (tissues, hand sanitizers and face masks) than any other product category, according to a survey by Rakuten Advertising. Cleanliness supplies represented 28% of spend for consumers with grade/high school children compared to 23% for traditional gear, 19% for technology, and 3% for new sporting equipment.  

Cleanliness supplies also scored big for consumers with college students, representing 26% of spend versus 21% for technology, 13% for traditional supplies and12% for clothing.

In other findings, back-to-school spending will tilt strongly towards online, with 85% of survey respondents expecting to do some of their shopping online. Only 15% will shop exclusively in-store. 

Other findings from the survey are below.
•    Shoppers may be more cautious about overall spend. More than 50% of shoppers for grade/high school children plan to spend less than $500 on back to school supplies this year.

• Over 50% of all grade school and high school shoppers were still unclear at the end of June as to how school would be conducted in the fall.

 • Back-to-college students are split between in-person and online. Thirty-four percent of college shoppers are not experiencing any changes to the start of the school year, while 32% have students attending online classes rather than in-person classes.

• Families are feeling the financial impact of the pandemic. Seventy-eight percent of parents have experienced some financial hardship due to COVID-19.

• Shopping will occur at the end of summer, except in the Southeast. While August is when the majority of parents conduct their back-to-school for all students, parents in the Southeast over-indexed for starting their shopping in July. 

• Those who are shopping are also thinking ahead to the holidays. Over 60% of all back-to-school shoppers are also browsing for holiday gifts, and over 35% of shoppers are buying at the same time.
 

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