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Back to School Shopping - US - January 2016

BTS (back-to-school) is the second-largest retail event of the year, behind only the winter holiday shopping season. Total back to school shopping (including both grade school and college) will result in close to $68 billion in sales in 2015. Mintel survey data indicate that parents view back to school as basically an essential, rather than just a discretionary purchase. Accordingly, it’s a great opportunity for retailers to bring consumers into stores to purchase everything from pens and notebooks to new clothes and new devices.

This report examines the following areas:

  • Little growth seen in a stagnant market
  • Digital fails to boost spend
  • Almost all parents go back to school shopping – and many like it

However, growth has been stagnant in this category in recent years, and parents seem eager to take advantage of savings opportunities like tax free weekends, price match programs and shopping in dollar stores. This trend may be due in part to an uncertain economy that has made parents reluctant to spend big after some more extravagant spending shortly after the end of the recession. The increasing focus on digital textbooks and tools may also be lessening the need to purchase some supplies. In this report, Mintel looks at trends in the back-to-school shopping space and identifies potential opportunities for growth.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Little growth seen in a stagnant market
            • Figure 1: Total planned US back-to-school spending, at current prices, 2010-15
          • Digital fails to boost spend
            • Figure 2: Anticipated spend on electronics for back to school, by gender and age, November 2015
          • Almost all parents go back to school shopping – and many like it
            • Figure 3: Attitudes toward back to school shopping, November 2015
          • The opportunities
            • Battle for the budget
              • Figure 4: Retailers shopped for back to school (either in-store or online), November 2015
            • Offer the right products – at the right time
              • Think smart when it comes to digital
                • Be sensitive to life stages and different needs
                  • What it means
                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                    • Slow growth seen in sales
                      • School budgets tighten
                        • Convenience is king
                          • Teens turn their backs on brands
                          • Market Size

                            • Economic trends, technology purchases play a role
                              • Figure 5: Total planned US back-to-school spending, at current prices, 2010-15
                              • Figure 6: Total planned US back-to-college spending, at current prices, 2010-2015
                          • Market Factors

                            • School enrollment is flat
                              • Figure 7: US. school enrollment, 2010-2014
                            • Budgets are getting slashed
                              • Tax-free holidays drive timing
                                • Schools go digital
                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                  • Save them time to win their dime
                                    • It’s all about Brand You
                                      • Digital dawns
                                      • What’s Working?

                                        • Do it their way
                                          • Be the one-stop-shop
                                          • What’s Struggling?

                                            • It’s all in the timing...
                                              • ...and not about the brand
                                                • Ethical beats edgy
                                                • What’s Next?

                                                  • Textbooks go digital
                                                    • Taking back to school lists online
                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                      • Who doesn’t shop for back to school?
                                                        • Walmart is in the winner’s circle
                                                          • Clothing costs the most
                                                            • Shopping can still be fun
                                                            • Participation in Back to School Shopping

                                                              • Everyone shops for back-to-school
                                                                • Figure 8: Back-to-school shopping participation, by age of children in household, November 2015
                                                              • Lowest earners less likely to shop
                                                                • Figure 9: Back-to-school shopping participation, by household income, November 2015
                                                              • Moms more likely to shop for back to school
                                                                • Figure 10: Back-to-school shopping participation, by gender and age, November 2015
                                                            • Anticipated Spending for Upcoming BTS Season

                                                              • Younger dads may be bigger spenders
                                                                • Figure 11: Back-to-school shopping anticipated spend, by generation and parental status, November 2015
                                                              • Few plan to cut back
                                                                • Figure 12: Back-to-school shopping anticipated spend, by household income, November 2015
                                                              • Room to increase spending among Asian parents
                                                                • Figure 13: Back-to-school shopping anticipated spend, by race/Hispanic origin, November 2015
                                                            • Retailers Shopped for Back to School

                                                              • Walmart is the winner
                                                                  • Figure 14: Retailers shopped for back-to-school, November 2015
                                                                • Younger parents are Target fans
                                                                  • Figure 15: Retailers shopped (in-store or online) for back to school, by gender and age, November 2015
                                                                • Amazon, Target, more popular with the affluent
                                                                  • Figure 16: Retailers shopped for back-to-school (in-store or online), by household income, November 2015
                                                                • Affluent, web users rely on Amazon and Walmart online
                                                                  • Figure 17: Retailers shopped online for back-to-school, by household income, November 2015
                                                              • Anticipated Spend by Category

                                                                • Apparel dominates spend
                                                                  • Figure 18: Anticipated spend by category for back-to-school, November 2015
                                                                • Young dads more likely to spend on shoes, gadgets
                                                                  • Figure 19: Anticipated spend by category for back-to-school, by gender and age, November 2015
                                                                • Shoes, supplies more of a priority for older kids
                                                                  • Figure 20: Anticipated spend by category for back to school, by age of children in household, November 2015
                                                              • Attitudes toward Back to School Shopping

                                                                • Quality matters more than price
                                                                  • Figure 21: Attitudes toward back to school shopping, November 2015
                                                                • Shopping more enjoyable for younger parents
                                                                    • Figure 22: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, by gender and age, November 2015
                                                                  • Blacks, Hispanics value quality, getting it right
                                                                    • Figure 23: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, by race/Hispanic origin, November 2015
                                                                • Back to School Shopping Influencers

                                                                  • School lists a top factor
                                                                      • Figure 24: Influencers on back-to-school shopping (any rank), November 2015
                                                                    • Younger parents more eager for advice
                                                                      • Figure 25: Influencers on back-to-school shopping (any rank), by gender and age, November 2015
                                                                    • Lower-income parents focus on school requirements
                                                                      • Figure 26: Influencers on back-to-school shopping (any rank), by household income, November 2015
                                                                  • Desired Improvements to Back to School Shopping

                                                                    • Free shipping, convenience most desired
                                                                        • Figure 27: Desired improvements to back-to-school shopping, November 2015
                                                                      • No-hassle returns more important for older parents
                                                                        • Figure 28: Desired improvements to back-to-school shopping, by gender and age, November 2015
                                                                      • Bundles a good way to appeal to bargain hunters
                                                                        • Figure 29: Desired improvements to back-to-school shopping, by household income, November 2015
                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                      • Data sources
                                                                        • Sales data
                                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                                            • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                                • Appendix – Market

                                                                                    • Figure 30: Changes in state spending per student, 2008-15
                                                                                    • Figure 31: Student access to digital devices, 2013

                                                                                Companies Covered

                                                                                To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                Back to School Shopping - US - January 2016

                                                                                US $3,995.00 (Excl.Tax)