Back-to-School Shopping May Not Be a Spree

Deloitte forecasts that retailers will experience a lackluster school shopping season this year.

July 12, 2019

NEW YORK—It appears that no one’s excited about school starting in a few short weeks, with Deloitte’s new survey finding that back-to-school spending will rise only 1.8% to top $27 billion this year for kindergarten through 12th grade, CNBC reports. For college students, families will shell out just over $25 billion, a 2.4% bump from 2018.

“Generally the consumer feels pretty good about where they are—they don’t feel the need to spend more or less,” said Rod Sides, a vice chairman of retail and distribution at Deloitte. “If you look at the category themselves, they’ve also been fairly flat.”

As with the past few years, parents are paying more for tech, with this year’s expenditures focused on e-readers and cellphones over computers and laptops. “We’re seeing the movement away from computers to cloud-based technologies and mobile technologies. The impact of the cloud on primary education is surprising,” Sides said. “They’re using technologies to store all of their work in the cloud, so they’ll be able to do most of their work from home. It changed the dynamic in terms of what they really need.”

Discount retailers like Walmart and Target that offer one-stop shopping will receive the lion’s share of back-to-school shopping, as 88% of K-12 pupils indicated they would stop at a mass merchant store for their school supplies. Merchants should expect the school shopping to commence in just a few weeks, with 62% happening in late July and early August.