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Back to School in the USA: How American Parents Shop and How Much They Spend

The holidays have just begun, but marketers know that the launch of Back to School campaigns is just around the corner. A survey from the US market suggests that spending on shopping could be higher than last year.

Back to School in the USA: How American Parents Shop and How Much They Spend
Source: Depositphotos

According to a survey by JLL, parents in the US are expected to spend nearly 22% more on school supplies this year. This trend points to key opportunities and challenges that European e-shops can learn from and adapt to their markets.

Parents plan to spend $475 per child, while last year it was $390.

Walmart, Amazon, and Target remain the top choices for shopping. This is a strong preference for large, well-established retailers. European platforms can draw inspiration – the selection of these stores points to the importance of building a strong brand and offering a wide range of products at affordable prices.

Another, albeit much less popular choice, are retailers like Costco, Old Navy, and Dollar General. However, they are still part of the shopping environment. This suggests that while large retailers dominate, there’s still room for specialized retailers to gain a share of the market.

Source: JLL

The survey also shows that about a quarter of parents started shopping for schoolchildren earlier – in June (22.1%), July (20%), and August (16.8%). Based on this distribution, we see that it’s appropriate to ensure good inventory and marketing strategies so that stores can satisfy both early and late buyers.

As consumers prepare to fulfill their school supply shopping lists this year, American stores are slowly launching their summer sales. Amazon kicks off with its Prime Day from July 16-17, followed by other retailers including Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Kohl’s.

Face to Face with Inflation

Interestingly, parents in almost all income groups plan to spend more money during the school season compared to last year. Wealthier households (earning more than $150,000) are increasing their budgets the most. Despite inflation concerns, parents earning more than $50,000 are not reducing their budgets. However, lower-income parents earning less than $50,000 are reducing their budgets due to inflation and looking for sales, coupons, and deals.

The gap is widening. This means it’s appropriate to offer competitive prices and attractive offers to attract budget-conscious customers. At the same time, don’t forget about high-quality and premium products for wealthier customers.

Source: JLL

The survey says that moms plan to spend more, look for sales, offers, and coupons, reuse school products, shop in July and August. They mainly order online and economically from large and cheaper brands, visiting 2-5 retailers on average. Dads tend to start shopping early. On average, they spend less, shop in malls, use BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up in Store), and prefer free delivery. In stores, they appreciate easy navigation, visit office supplies, department stores, and electronics stores. They shop at 6-7 retailers.

So what can we take away from shopping trends in the US? By understanding increased per-child spending, preferred shopping destinations, distributed shopping timelines, and different budgets of various income groups, European e-commerce platforms can better prepare for a successful sales season. Offering a wide range of products, competitive prices, attractive offers, and timely sales promotions will be key to gaining a share in this area.

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