Parents Will Lean on Digital for Back-to-School Shopping, but Many Still Plan to Shop In-Store

Back-to-school shopping in the US may look a little different this year due to the pandemic—but only slightly.

Distance learning will likely play a substantial role in the back-to-school season. And many consumers are already eyeing certain products as a result. According to a July 2020 survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than a third of US internet users said they plan to buy a laptop for elearning. Respondents also cited furniture, such as desks and chairs (17%) and printers (17%), as planned purchases.

Additionally, more parents will rely on digital for their back-to-school shopping needs. According to Deloitte data published in July, US parent internet users planned to conduct 37% of their back-to-school shopping online this year, up 8 percentage points from 2019.

Despite stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures, many parents still plan to shop in physical stores for the back-to-school season. Respondents to the Deloitte survey said that 43% of their back-to-school shopping will happen in-store. While that share decreased from 2019, it’s still a substantial figure.

May 2020 research from shopkick also found that two-thirds of US shoppers planned to shop in-store for school supplies.

And the majority of this shopping will likely take place at big-box stores. The largest share (95%) of respondents said they would shop at retailers like Target and Walmart; 37% planned to go to office supply stores and 24% planned to shop at drugstores.

"Behind the Numbers" Podcast