Back-to-school shopping update: Halfway done but more to do

In July, NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics released their annual back-to-class survey, which found families with children in elementary through high school planned to spend $696.70 on average to get ready for the school year. This month, NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics checked in with back-to-school shoppers to see what’s left on their lists.

There’s more shopping to do

Even as some schools are already starting, back-to-class shoppers haven’t checked everything off their lists. On average, consumers surveyed August 2-8 said they had completed just over half (54 percent) of their shopping. While it might seem like they’re procrastinating, this is the furthest along shoppers have ever been in early August: A decade ago, shoppers had only completed about 42 percent of their shopping by this time.



Why aren’t shoppers finished? Top reasons include not knowing what’s needed yet, still waiting for the best deals and spreading out back-to-school shopping budgets. Nearly half (49 percent) of back-to-school shoppers say they plan to make their final purchase one to two weeks before the start of school.

What’s left to buy

There’s still a lot left to purchase; school supplies, clothing, shoes and electronics top the list. Consumers plan to complete most of their shopping at department stores, discount stores and online.



What’s influencing shoppers

Back-to-school shoppers said the purchases they’ve already made are strongly influenced by school requirements, especially for school supplies (65 percent, on average) and electronics (49 percent, on average) — the highest since we first started asking this question in 2014.

But as always, consumers are drawn to great deals. This year, over half (51 percent, on average) of all school-related purchases have been influenced by sales and promotions. Roughly three in 10 shoppers say back-to-school related coupons or in-store promotions will motivate them to shop at a specific retailer.

“It’s clear that many families are factoring in price when shopping,” said Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist. “In the upcoming weeks, parents will be looking to take advantage of generous promotions to finish meeting their back-to-school needs.”

That means it’s not too late for retailers to engage customers for back-to-school shopping. For additional insights, visit our Back-to-school Data Center.

More on back-to-school

Back to School
Survey results and consumer insights related to retail's second biggest spending event of the year.
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Back-to-Class Data Center
Consumer spending trends during the second biggest retail event of the year.
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A look at what’s left for back-to-class shopping
Why consumers are taking the time to find the best value on the items they need.
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