On top of starting earlier, Rubicon Project’s 2016 Back-to-School Consumer Pulse survey found that parents are spending more than ever with record online and mobile shopping expected. The survey, which focused on the purchasing intent and shopping habits of children in grades K-12 and parents with children entering their freshmen year of college, found that 61 percent of all parents plan to spend more than they did last year – approximately $917 per child on average. Parents of college freshman plan to spend more than $1,300 per child, twice what the average K-12 parent plans to spend – which isn’t surprising given that an average of $324 will be spent on dorm supplies alone.
Gone are the days when the bulk of purchases were made on binders, backpacks and book covers. This year, parents plan to spend the majority of their back-to-school budget on tech-related items such as laptops, tablets and other devices. And an increasing number of parents plan to make these purchases on mobile, with 60 percent of parents planning to use mobile devices for at least some back-to-school shopping and 30 percent planning to do at least a quarter of it on mobile.
For retailers that had their back-to-school strategies in place early on, this July upswing should be a breeze. And for those that didn’t expect such radical changes to the back-to-school shopping season, this year’s big lessons learned are that parents are continuing to shop earlier and that mobile is becoming increasingly more popular.