Despite the levels of uncertainty around schooling in the US due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of families expect to spend as much on supplies as they thought earlier this summer, if not more, with clothing spend expected to be up.
According to a survey conducted in early August by the National Retail Federation (NRF), most families still don’t know what supplies students need for school and college this year, but 63% expect at least some classes to take place online than a month ago and say they are buying more computers and other items to be prepared.
The survey found 34% expect to spend more than they thought in July, and 54% say that’s because they plan to spend more on electronics and computer equipment. But with growing children needing new clothes, whether they are at school or at home, and many supplies needed either way, 47% say they are spending more on clothing. Only 25% expect to spend less, and 42% expect to spend the same as they thought in July.
“Consumers still face a great deal of uncertainty even as school begins to start and are further behind in their back-to-school spending than they have been in years,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay says. “At this point, the majority of families expect to spend as much as they thought earlier this summer if not more, and it’s largely because of the need to spend more on electronics.”
The survey did not ask the actual amount consumers expect to spend. As of July, shoppers with children in kindergarten through high school said they planned to spend an average US$789.49 per family for a total of $33.9bn, while those with college students planned to spend an average $1,059.20 per family, or $67.7bn total.
Only 34% of consumers had received school supply lists by early August, up from 10% in July, but still leaving most waiting for more clarity before they could finish shopping.
“With many schools still not clear on whether students will be in the classroom or learning at home, parents have to be prepared for both,” Prosper Insights executive vice president of strategy, Phil Rist, says. “Nonetheless, a growing number of parents expect students to be at home.”
The survey of 7,569 consumers was conducted 3-11 August and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.