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2017 Back-to-School Consumer Report: From Store Aisles to School Halls

As school children blissfully ride bikes down tree-lined streets, unable to imagine summer will ever end, retailers are already in the thick of back-to-school season, and our 2017 Back-to-School Report gives us some idea of what they are facing.

We surveyed 995 North American back-to-school shoppers between June 26 and July 7 about their purchase intentions in four categories: school supplies, fashion/apparel, electronics/tech, and extracurricular items. We payed particular attention to budgetary information, purchase locations, intended purchase items, advertising influencers, and purchase channels.

First and foremost, our year-over-year data indicates that budgets are generally down, almost entirely across the board. Indeed, average budgets are down in three of the four major shopping categories—fashion/apparel, electronics/tech, and uniforms—with school supplies being the lone exception. Perhaps it’s politics keeping budgets down this year? So while budgets may be down and some corners can be cut when it comes to clothes and gadgets, there simply is no substitute for a good ol’ fashioned notebook and box of pens.

How will shoppers be spending these comparatively smaller budgets, and how will they decide? Many of the decisions will be made for them. These days, schools mandate all sorts of products, and retailers are getting wise to it: 77% of respondents stated that local retailers provide a list of school supplies needed for specific schools and districts. Additionally, 43% of respondents stated their child is required to have a laptop or tablet for school, and 18% a school uniform.

With budgets down across the board, and so many mandatory expenditures already involved, discretionary spending will dip. That is why, though 92% of all back-to-school shoppers plan to buy school supplies and 76% fashion/apparel, electronics was down to 62% and extracurricular items to 41%. Unsurprisingly, the higher one’s budget, the more likely they were to purchase items from both categories.

What other trends are playing out on retail’s front lines? Which platforms are most popular for online shopping and which categories do shoppers still want to inspect in person? And which category is starting to see some benefit from podcast and streaming advertisement? And does summer really have to end? Find out the answer to all (ok, most) of these questions by downloading the full report.

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It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.