School Spending May Be Starting Later

With closets well-stocked with last year’s school supplies, back-to-school shoppers aren’t in a hurry to fill their baskets in August.

Nearly four in 10 (38%) parents shopping for children in grades K-12 said they replenish school supplies throughout the year and feel less need to stock up at one time, according to two surveys by Deloitte. The global consulting firm found that nearly a third (31%) plan to complete their back-to-school shopping after the start of the school year. 

According to Deloitte’s surveys, individual American families’ spending for children in grades K-12 and college combined is expected to remain flat this season at $1,747, compared with $1,766 last year.

The number of consumers who plan to reuse last year’s items has risen, from 26% to 39%, between 2011 and 2015. Consumers are no longer exclusively driven by discounts: Over those five years, coupon-clipping decreased 14 percentage points and intentions to buy more lower-priced items fell 11 points.

Shoppers will likely reach the stores this fall after making buying decisions using digital devices before arriving in retail. According to Deloitte, in-store purchases of electronics and apparel are largely influenced by the devices consumers use before and during their trip to the physical store. Last year, 49 cents out of every dollar spent on apparel in brick-and-mortar stores was digitally influenced, as was 62 cents of every dollar spent on electronics.

Other findings from the “Back-to-School” and “Back-to-College” surveys:

  • Eight in 10 smartphone owners in Deloitte’s “Back-to-School” survey plan to use their electronic devices in the back-to-school shopping process, up slightly from last year. Consumers also appear more inclined to research on their phones rather than click Buy: More than four in 10 consumers surveyed will access a retailer’s website or product information, but just 29% plan to use their phones to make a purchase.
  • Although mobile-payment apps and digital wallets are new technologies, seven out of every hundred respondents plan to use them for back-to-school shopping this year.
  • More than half (55%) of parents shopping for children in grades K-12 also say they will research online first before making a purchase in a store. Only 10% of respondents say they rely on social media for back-to-school shopping, down from 18% last year.