Back to School Spending Impacted Greatly by COVID-19

August 6, 2020


Much like the patchwork closures and stay-at-home requirements in April, May and June, back to school plans vary by state, county and local levels. Virtual learning and uncertainties around in-person school are impacting school shopping, which is the second most important period for retailers behind the end of year holiday season.

Back to School Shopping - Timing is Shifting Slightly

The back-to-school season typically kicks off in mid-July and peaks in mid-August. However, this year, predictions are that the peak will hit in late August and spill into most of September. In addition, Amazon's Prime Day, which for five years was in mid-July, has been postponed until later in the year. According to market research firm The NPD Group, Amazon's shopping event helped jump-start back-to-school sales.

Still, the National Retail Federation expects that parents of elementary through high school students will spend a total of $33.9 billion this year - up from $26.2 billion last year. Meanwhile, results from a Deloitte survey, indicates average spending of $529 per household on clothes, supplies, computers and electronics for school kids, up 2% from last year. For college supplies, parents are expected to spend $1,345 per student - which is the same as the prior year's spend.

"People just don't know what they need."
- A telling quote from Jill Renslow, Senior Vice President of Mall of America

 

Back to School Purchases Vary

Deloitte indicated that tech purchases and hygiene products will largely fill the school shopping basket. In addition, less dressy clothing is being purchased as shoppers focus on comfortable items like yoga pants. Renslow commented that she is also seeing increased sales of home decor for children’s rooms as they spend more time doing online learning.

Virtual Learning Changing Purchasing Habits

Retailers are also making changes to adapt to the rise in virtual lessons. For example, Walmart Inc. has developed specific areas for teachers and virtual learning tools on its website. Best Buy has added new services, including a tool called Parent Hub, which provides tips and resources to help with distance learning. And Kohl's, whose message on its website reads, "Heading back or logging in, the new year starts here" is promoting educational toys and desk accessories as part of its back-to-school campaign.

While online ordering will play a large role, delivery delays will continue to be a concern as well as rising shipping costs due to existing and temporary surcharges.


ABOUT SPEND MANAGEMENT EXPERTS

Spend Management Experts provides strategic guidance to optimize your supply chain. Using cost modeling technology and market intelligence, we help companies with their transportation, distribution and fulfillment spend. Often large shippers can reduce their spend across the supply chain by 20% or more. We specialize in reducing distribution costs, increasing efficiencies, dynamic reporting, greater budgeting and forecasting accuracy and optimizing supply chain execution. We leverage our proprietary models to identify savings and build negotiation strategies based on data and business cases. As industry experts, our fresh approach provides clients with straightforward details on exactly how savings are derived. Spend Management Experts is your competitive edge, delivered.

Connect with Spend Management Experts on TwitterLinkedIn, and the Spend Management Experts blog.

 

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Back to School Spending Impacted Greatly by COVID-19

August 6, 2020


Much like the patchwork closures and stay-at-home requirements in April, May and June, back to school plans vary by state, county and local levels. Virtual learning and uncertainties around in-person school are impacting school shopping, which is the second most important period for retailers behind the end of year holiday season.

Back to School Shopping - Timing is Shifting Slightly

The back-to-school season typically kicks off in mid-July and peaks in mid-August. However, this year, predictions are that the peak will hit in late August and spill into most of September. In addition, Amazon's Prime Day, which for five years was in mid-July, has been postponed until later in the year. According to market research firm The NPD Group, Amazon's shopping event helped jump-start back-to-school sales. Still, the National Retail Federation expects that parents of elementary through high school students will spend a total of $33.9 billion this year - up from $26.2 billion last year. Meanwhile, results from a Deloitte survey, indicates average spending of $529 per household on clothes, supplies, computers and electronics for school kids, up 2% from last year. For college supplies, parents are expected to spend $1,345 per student - which is the same as the prior year's spend.

"People just don't know what they need." - A telling quote from Jill Renslow, Senior Vice President of Mall of America

 

Back to School Purchases Vary

Deloitte indicated that tech purchases and hygiene products will largely fill the school shopping basket. In addition, less dressy clothing is being purchased as shoppers focus on comfortable items like yoga pants. Renslow commented that she is also seeing increased sales of home decor for children’s rooms as they spend more time doing online learning.

Virtual Learning Changing Purchasing Habits

Retailers are also making changes to adapt to the rise in virtual lessons. For example, Walmart Inc. has developed specific areas for teachers and virtual learning tools on its website. Best Buy has added new services, including a tool called Parent Hub, which provides tips and resources to help with distance learning. And Kohl's, whose message on its website reads, "Heading back or logging in, the new year starts here" is promoting educational toys and desk accessories as part of its back-to-school campaign. While online ordering will play a large role, delivery delays will continue to be a concern as well as rising shipping costs due to existing and temporary surcharges.

ABOUT SPEND MANAGEMENT EXPERTS

Spend Management Experts provides strategic guidance to optimize your supply chain. Using cost modeling technology and market intelligence, we help companies with their transportation, distribution and fulfillment spend. Often large shippers can reduce their spend across the supply chain by 20% or more. We specialize in reducing distribution costs, increasing efficiencies, dynamic reporting, greater budgeting and forecasting accuracy and optimizing supply chain execution. We leverage our proprietary models to identify savings and build negotiation strategies based on data and business cases. As industry experts, our fresh approach provides clients with straightforward details on exactly how savings are derived. Spend Management Experts is your competitive edge, delivered. Connect with Spend Management Experts on TwitterLinkedIn, and the Spend Management Experts blog.  

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