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Back to School 2016
Consumer Trends

Top Trends for 2016 Back-to-School and College Shopping

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Nothing really compares to the winter holiday season when it comes to retail sales, but back-to-school and back-to-college shopping is a significant spending event, with total spending expected to reach $75.8 billion this year.

Each year, NRF works with Prosper Insights & Analytics to find out when, where and how American families will shop for school and college supplies. Here are just a few insights from this year’s consumer survey:

  • More families have kids in school — thanks to the large generation of Millennials who are parents of school-age children — which is boosting total back-to-school spending to near-record levels.
  • Plans to shop at discount stores are down slightly, but it’s still the most popular destination for both back-to-school and back-to-college shopping.
  • The largest portion of back-to-school shopping budgets goes toward apparel and electronics. Not only are new clothes and devices a necessity, but these items are also a way for students to express their personalities.
  • Shoppers are already in stores and online. Last year’s shoppers procrastinated, but 2016 is a different story. Nearly three-quarters of back-to-school families are starting their shopping one to two months before school begins.
  • Dads want their online orders delivered quickly. Men are two times more likely to use expedited shipping than women.

There’s more to learn from our SlideShare, which looks at back-to-school and back-to-college data for the 2016 season.


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Historical data and top trends: Find all of NRF's back-to-school and back-to-college resources in one place.