Back to School Shopping is On!

As we’re seeing everyone write about the discounts happening at Amazon for Prime Day, we can’t help but think that some of those shoppers are actually looking for back-to-school deals. Microsoft may have kicked off its back-to-school savings with deals on the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 on July 7th, but Amazon’s Prime Day provides the specials that get shoppers and retailers alike calling it Black Friday in July.

The back-to-school shopping season has pushed forward beyond the traditional time from my youth of the last two weeks in August. While August is still the most popular time, most parents will now start their shopping before August this year and 28 percent will start earlier than they did last year.

We looked around at why this might be happening and it turns out that many schools have broken with the traditional Labor Day start and are ringing the bell for the start of the school year in August or even July. According to a CNN article from 2015, August is the new September and kids in Hawaii and parts of Indiana and Arizona start in late July. According to the article, there are plenty of reasons for it, including finishing the first semester before the December holiday break, more instructional time before spring statewide assessment tests, and the ability to provide longer breaks for fall and the holidays.

Wondering what’s hot in back to school shopping?

An Ebates surveyed of 1,0001 adults and 500 teens conducted in June discovered some interesting statistics for those wondering who is buying what and how much are they spending. Most parents plan to spend between $100 and $300 on back-to-school shopping this year. Clothes and shoes are at the top of the list for both parents and teens. School supplies such as pencils, pens and notebooks took second in the survey. A backpack or school bag was the third most important priority.

A separate survey by the NPD Group also asked consumers about their potential purchase of electronics. They were fairly divided, with roughly 1/3 planning to spend more, just over 1/3 planning to spend less, and that pretty much leaves 1/3 planning to spend about the same.

School shopping will obviously differ depending on the school level, with college students spending much more on home furnishings to start dorm room living. Back in my day, it used to be that you received your first computer when you went away to college. Now, I can’t imagine that laptops aren’t a must have for high school students and they are probably settled in to their choice before they go off to school.

Why are we writing about back-to-school shopping? Well, it’s a traditional fall activity, of course. It may have pushed forward into July and August, but it is still a strong signal of the end of summer and the start of the end of the year run to Thanksgiving and Christmas. We plan to roll out more back-to-school information and products over the next year or two, so we decided to start talking about it now. Can you tell that we can’t wait for fall?

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