Back To School Spending Set To Reach $26.5 Billion This Year

The shopping season is now in full swing, with 71 percent of back to school expenditures set to occur by September 10. Here's how retailers can take advantage.

As the back to school shopping season gets into full swing, total spending is estimated to reach $26.5 billion this year — and with 71 percent of back to school expenditures occurring between July 10 and September 10, retailers still have six weeks to capture a portion of this significant spend.

Of that $26.5 billion, top spending categories include apparel ($15.5 billion), school supplies ($5.3 billion), and accessories ($3.7 billion), according to new research from GlobalWide Media. And the good news for brick-and-mortar businesses? Shoppers do more back to school shopping in stores, with 74 percent of B2S revenue coming from in-store purchases versus 26 percent online.

GlobalWide Media’s report also breaks down projected spend by state:

Winning At Back To School

So, how can retailers attract attention in the most important months of the back to school season?

As we’ve written previously, discovery is the name of the game for all retailers — whether online or offline. This means that marketers need to take into account the diverse ways in which people today make searches for the stores and products they’re looking: On desktop, mobile, in apps like Google Maps, and via voice. Having a presence everywhere a consumer might look is critical — so claim those GMB listings and start building a voice strategy.

Secondly, discoverability today means prioritizing unbranded search; consumers today are likely to search for “notebooks” or “cropped jeans” rather than a retailer’s name, like “Office Max.” Retailers looking to succeed in back to school search need to show up in these situations — or else they’ll lose out to Amazon.

And finally, relevancy is always key — during the back to school season and year round.

“Establishing relevancy to students and schools before students even set foot on college campuses is mission critical,” explained Lisa Malat, CMO of Barnes &Noble College.  “Gen Z consumers [in particular] demand transparency and purposeful connections. We understand the stressors of today’s students and work to ease this life transition by educating our customers on what they need for academic and social success.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.