Back-to-school shopping 2020

How back-to-school shopping is faring amid the global pandemic and remote learning

It's back-to-school time, but not like we’re used to. Many communities are still figuring out just what the return of school looks like this fall, and that confusion and uncertainty extends to the annual shopping ritual. This week on the Retail Gets Real podcast, we're diving into how consumers are approaching back-to-school shopping with Katherine Cullen from the NRF research team.

Back-to-school is typically the second biggest event on the retail calendar, and NRF has been tracking consumers’ spending plans for decades. But this year is unlike any we’ve experienced before.

Back-to-class

Explore NRF’s back-to-class consumer data.

The impact of the pandemic may seem a bit unexpected in some respects. “This year, when we asked consumers what they planned to shop for, for back-to-school and back-to-college, and what they planned to spend, we actually saw an increase,” Cullen says. “For the first time, total spending for back-to-school and back-to-college is actually projected at over $100 billion.”

Electronics and items for virtual learning are driving a lot of that projection, and as school plans become clearer, consumers might adjust their spending. At the time of the survey earlier in the summer, consumers said they planned to spend close to $790 on average for grade school or high school students and over $1,000 on average for college students.

Listen to the full episode to learn more about the ways retailers are adjusting their back-to-school shopping experience for online shopping, how kids are contributing to their own school shopping and more.

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