The back-to-school shopping season is back in full swing. It could be a record setting year for retailers and inflation will play a major role. Consumers have been resilient to the inflation we are facing, and this will be another test of that trend. Many schools have returned to regular in-person classes, and we could see a renewed focus on apparel shopping. Even with in-person classes, electronics will still be the hottest items according to NRF. Shoppers may not buy more than they did last year, yet they will be spending more.

To date, many consumers have continued to spend in the face of our sliding economy. There are concerns over how long that is sustainable; however, the necessities involved with back-to-school shopping should provide for several weeks of big spending. According to Deloitte, parents are planning to spend an average of $661, which is an 8% increase from last year. NRF comes in at an even higher $864 per family and $1,199 for college students. With that kind of spending happening over the next few months, it is paramount for suppliers to get their products on store shelves and in digital marketplaces. Due to inflation, consumers will be more selective in their purchases, yet they will prioritize school supplies over their other expenses.

Due to necessity and supply chain issues, the value of electronics skyrocketed during the pandemic. There is still high demand for laptops, tablets, and headphones; however, we could see a shift back toward more traditional items. Apparel became less of a necessity over the last few years due to remote learning, yet that could change this year. Many schools will be returning to a typical classroom setting this fall and students will need new clothes and shoes for the occasion. NRF has spending on clothing and footwear at a projected $18B combined, they are also the second and third leading categories, respectively, behind electronics. This is great news for apparel retailers that have been struggling over the past few years as this will be one of the best opportunities for apparel sales for the remainder of the year.

The most recent national shopping event, Amazon Prime Day, proved to be very successful and there is no reason to think that back-to-school shopping will be any different, although there will still be challenges to face. The supply chain is still not back in working order and we can expect some shortages on items with the highest demand. We have already discussed consumers willingness to spend even with inflation, yet they could still cut back on certain items and stick to basics and necessities. These are all elements to keep in mind as suppliers and retailers prepare for a busy and likely fruitful back-to-school shopping event.

To reach the retail buyers responsible for making decisions for back-to-school merchandise, contact your Chain Store Guide Account Manager today for a quick demonstration of our online B2B databases. Time is running out for the 2022 holiday shopping season so don’t delay.