Back-to-school Shopping Spending Is in Full Swing

·3 min read

More than half (56 percent) of U.S. consumers say they plan to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year — a reflection of expected rising product costs. As reported by WWD, this sentiment is consistent across similar 2022 back-to-school reports that show parents won’t be holding back on purchases for the season.

According to findings in KPMG’s 2022 back-to-school consumer pulse, almost three-fourths of the respondents (74 percent) are moderately or extremely concerned with inflation with more than half (52 percent) being the latter. Fifty-seven percent of Gen X are extremely concerned with inflation.

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U.S. consumers plan to spend on average $385 per student, an increase of 20 percent compared to 2021, with most of the spending to be on core supplies, apparel and footwear. Where they shop will also be a mix, with many consumers looking for the best deals both online and in-store.

“Back-to-school shopping is showing a resilient consumer ready to spend even with the full expectation of paying higher prices,” said Matt Kramer, consumer and retail national sector leader at KPMG. “Consumers want to get out and physically shop in stores while searching for deals to stretch their budgets.”

This year, 43 percent of consumers said they expect to shop online and 57 percent in-store — up from 51 percent last year. Sixty percent of Gen X plan to shop in-store. Mass merchants remain the most popular retail option for back-to-school spending, with 35 percent of consumers saying they plan to shop at these stores.

“The findings in our back-to-school survey on plans for in-store and online shopping reinforce the importance of an omnichannel strategy for retailers,” said Scott Rankin, advisory leader for the consumer and retail sector at KPMG. “While more consumers plan to shop in store this year, led by the 60 percent of Gen X who plan to do so, we again see a solid core of online back-to-school shoppers.”

As they shop, notebooks and pencils aren’t the only things on parents’ lists. Almost 80 percent of respondents said they consider apparel and footwear to be an essential part of the back-to-school spend.

Additionally, 53 percent of households with kids say they purchase luxury items as part of back-to-school spending, with an increase in this proportion among males, Gen Z and those with an income of more than $100,000. Fifty-six percent of this includes purchasing high-end electronics and 55 percent say they buy designer clothing.

With supply chain issues still present, consumers will also be leaning toward an earlier start time for back-to-school shopping. Forty-nine percent of consumers told KPMG they are at least moderately concerned with inventory shortages. With that in mind, 50 percent of consumers say they are planning to shop earlier this year to mitigate the risk, 46 percent will shop at multiple retailers and 32 percent will spend less or go without items not in stock.

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