5 facts you need to know about back-to-school shopping

It’s the end of July, which means barbeques, beach days, and beating the summer heat. Unless of course you’re a student. Then it means that you only have a few precious weeks left before school starts up again.

And for retailers, that means back-to-school shopping is right around the corner.

To that end, we’ve put together a list of facts about back-to-school (BTS) that retailers need to know!

1. Back-to-school is a $75 billion shopping event.

Dolla dolla bills, y’all.

If you took all the spending for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, combined it, and then doubled it, back-to-school spending would still be bigger. Puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? It’s huge business, second only to the holiday season.

Part of the reason it’s so big is because of sheer number of people that need to get stuff — everyone from 2nd graders getting pencils and notebooks to high schoolers getting new clothing to college freshmen getting linens and electronics.

2. Online shopping will account for 43% of BTS sales

According to a BigCommerce survey, parents spend 75% more time online searching for products and deals than non-parents (makes sense — they’re the ones earning the money). What may be surprising, however, is that parents also spend 61% more time online than non-parents when doing BTS shopping.

For on-the-go parents, mobile devices will account for a large part of their shopping experience. 30% of parents are planning to do at least a portion of their BTS shopping from their mobile device.

Quick Tip: A small deal goes a long way. During BTS season, parents can be found shopping for sales and using coupons more often. Engage with thrifty consumers by promoting special BTS offers on your site — and don’t be discouraged if they don’t bite instantly: the National Retail Foundation found that parents are waiting longer and longer, hoping to find the perfect BTS deal.

3. College freshmen spend the most

Kids these days — spending all that money.
Kids these days — spending all that money.

This makes sense, when you think about it. Until kids leave for college, most of what they’re buying is school supplies, some new clothes, or, on a splurge year, maybe a laptop or tablet.

College freshman are basically preparing for 4 years of life apart, and need all those things that they take for granted at home. Pillows. Sheets. Towels. Laundry detergent. Shampoo. You name it, they need it.

That’s why college freshmen spend $439 on their BTS shopping, according to a survey by SoapBoxSample. The same survey found that high schoolers spend $252, and elementary school kids (or their parents) spend just $166.

4. Most shopping gets done in August

According to Nextopia, 54% of BTS shopping will happen after July. And just to make things easy for those who don’t like to do math, that means there’s about $40.5 billion available for retailers of the whole BTS pie.

What that means: It’s not too late to get started on back-to-school! Plenty of people haven’t bought, and many haven’t even thought about it (we would know — we’re the last minute kind of shoppers!).

5. More is spent on fashion and electronics than actual school supplies

This stuff costs mucho.
This stuff costs mucho.

This feels counter intuitive. After all, what is back to school shopping but loading up on things that Junior is going to need for the upcoming school year? As we’ve discussed, it’s a whole lot more than fancy new pens.

That’s what AdRoll Retargeting’s research found out. Tech supplies and clothing are two of the more popular BTS shopping items. The average family will spend a whopping $346 on BTS-related electronics and just $109 on actual school supplies. Clothing landed somewhere in the middle, with $249 being the average spend.

What you need to do: No matter what line of business you’re in, there’s a very good chance some student somewhere needs what you’re selling. And since the next few weeks are crucial, it’s time to starting pushing that stuff hard and fast.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know the facts, there are a ton of things you can be doing to target those valuable BTS shoppers. If you’re still stumped for ideas, why not look at this list of tips from our friends at BigCommerce? We’re big fans.