Hand Sanitizer, Masks Top Back-to-School Lists

Parents whose children will be in the classroom this fall are looking for protective gear. 

August 10, 2020

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—Parents who are sending their kids back to school plan to stock up this year on hand sanitizer, face masks and gloves in addition to basic school supplies, according to the latest COVID-19 shopper insights report from Acosta.

“As COVID cases continue to rise, most shoppers believe we’re headed for another shutdown and plan to respond accordingly, so retailers should be prepared for a new surge in stocking up,” said Darian Pickett, CEO of North American Sales at Acosta.

“The pandemic will also significantly impact back-to-school shopping this year, and retailers will need to adapt to parents’ new priorities and shopping preferences. Hand sanitizer, masks and gloves will be the most in-demand items, in addition to basic school supplies, and many will opt for online shopping and delivery options,” Pickett said.

In online surveys, 64% of shoppers said they plan to buy hand sanitizer, 64% plan to buy basic school supplies and 60% plan to buy face masks and gloves, Acosta found. Thirty-three percent of shoppers plan to buy more online, 23% plan to have more delivered and 20% plan to shop in fewer stores.

Shoppers anticipate additional stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic, with 67% of those surveyed saying they think another shutdown is extremely or somewhat likely to occur. If so, 53% plan to stock up on groceries.

With the holiday season approaching, 43% of shoppers are worried traditions will be impacted by the pandemic and celebrations will be disrupted, 25% are looking forward to the holidays and plan to celebrate as usual and 27% claim to not be able to think about the holidays with everything else going on, Acosta found.

Acosta’s gathered the research via online surveys using the company’s proprietary shopper community between March 6 and July 16, 2020 (shopper concern levels) and July 10 and 16, 2020 (remaining insights).