Back-to-school shopping off to a slow start

Our latest Thought Starter provides details on what Americans expect to spend on back-to-school items.

The author(s)

  • Chris Deeney Senior Vice President, U.S. Ipsos Observer
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According to the latest Ipsos North American Omnibus, parents with children heading to elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on back-to-school items this year – an increase over last year. But, will this extend to spending on extracurricular activities?

Our latest Thought Starter provides details on how American parents expect to spend getting their families ready for a new school year. This valuable information allows you to optimize messaging on an infinite number of products and categories or identify growth with potential product extensions.


KEY FINDINGS:

  • Back-to-school shopping is off to a slower start this year, compared to last year
  • School safety ranks slightly above COVID concerns, with women especially expressing their preference for home learning due to safety concerns compared to men
  • 60% of parents say they will not let inflation prevent them from enrolling their kids in extracurricular activities this year

Now that COVID has been a part of our lives for over two years, many expect the return to school will be smooth. Students and adults have learned to adjust and make life work when faced with unexpected disruptions. Ipsos eNation Omnibus checked in with parents to find out how they are preparing for this upcoming school year.

Notably, fewer households with school-aged children have already started their back-to-school purchases—34% this year compared to 42% last year, new Ipsos polling shows. But families are prioritizing back-to-school spending even amidst rising inflation, according to the National Retail Federation: Parents with children heading to elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on back-to-school items this year, $15 more than last year and a whopping $168 more than 2019. Parents of college students expect to spend the same this year, $1,200, as spent in 2021.

With the continued expectations of in-class learning during the 2022–23 school year and facing inflation challenges, Ipsos polling found that few families expect to spend less this year on back-to-school purchases.

a

b

While most parents (60%) say they will not let inflation prevent them from enrolling their kids in extracurricular activities this year, not everyone is able to make the same decision.

c

So, what are this year’s expectations as children head back to school? Most parents are hopeful for a year without major interruptions due to the coronavirus.

d

Back-to-school trends could be affected by the recent increase of COVID cases. However, now that vaccines and boosters are available for children, schools are likely to be open this upcoming semester. Ipsos looked at parents’ preferences for this school year amid the newest BA.5 variant, and found that in-person learning was the clear preference. Women were significantly more likely (65%) than men (50%) to prefer all in-class teaching.

e

Those answering all online or both online and in-class learning were asked why they would prefer at least some e-learning. We discovered school safety ranked slightly above COVID concerns. Women (63%) especially expressed their preference for home learning due to safety concerns compared to men (52%).

f

Why Ipsos eNation Omnibus?

Want to learn more about how Americans feel? Try Ipsos eNation Omnibus. One of the most important aspects of marketing is knowing your audience. The Ipsos eNation Omnibus is the ideal marketing tool because it can quickly measure public opinion and consumer attitudes about any topic, any time. Our rapid-response research is affordable, efficient, accurate, flexible and includes overnight and custom study options. These actionable Ipsos insights can be incorporated into your marketing strategy immediately.

Our Back-To-School Spending study provides details on how American parents expect to spend getting their families ready for a new school year. This valuable information allows you to optimize messaging on an infinite number of products and categories or identify growth with potential product extensions.

If you would like complimentary access to this Back-To-School Spending study, a copy of a past Thought Starter omnibus study, or to learn more about eNation Omnibus, please contact us today.

Ipsos eNation Omnibus Thought Starters still available:

  • Summer Vacations
  • Inflation
  • 2021 Year-In-Review/Holiday Shopping
  • Back-To-School 2021/22
  • Housing

Ipsos U.S. eNation Omnibus completes five national surveys each week. Ipsos Omnibus offers a variety of services, including overnight and custom studies. Data for this study was generated by an Ipsos eNation online omnibus study of 416 Americans with children attending school (from pre-K to college) this school year, conducted July 11–13, 2022. If you would like complimentary access to this Back-To-School Spending Study, or to learn more about eNation omnibus, please contact:

The author(s)

  • Chris Deeney Senior Vice President, U.S. Ipsos Observer

Society