Despite an unpredictable back-to-school environment, overall back-to-school spending is expected to increase by 16% year-over-year to $32.5 billion for K-12 students, according to Deloitte's Back-to-School survey emailed to Retail Dive. This year, parents plan to spend an average of $612 on average per child, the survey found.
Compared to last year, 40% of parents expect to spend more on back-to-school items in 2021. Among the top three places consumers will spend the most on school purchases are mass merchant stores (48%), online-only stores (15%) and dollar stores (5%), per the survey findings.
Remote learning has catalyzed sales growth in electronics. Among survey respondents, 31% said they plan to buy computers and hardware, up from 22% in 2020. Plus, 37% anticipate purchasing electronic gadgets, compared to 24% in 2020.
The slightly increased back-to-school budget seems to mirror the economic optimism consumers have.
Deloitte's survey echoes other findings indicating that shoppers plan to spend more on back-to-school this year. KPMG's recent back-to-school survey found that consumers plan to spend $268 per child, up from $247 in 2020. The rise in back-to-school spending is happening with overall retail recovery.
Last year, the back-to-school spending was $529 per household, which was flat compared to 2019, according to Deloitte. At that time, shoppers were concerned about their safety due to COVID-19 and weren't sure whether retailers would offer reasonable prices.
Per Deloitte's recent survey, nearly half of respondents (45%) of respondents expect the economy to improve in the next six months, and more than half (55%) are confident about the economy's prospects. Plus, 78% said they're in a similar or better financial situation, a bump from 71% in 2020.
"We've entered a new era of schooling where traditional back-to-school supplies are fading in favor of tech, while consumers expect certain conveniences and competitive prices," Rod Sides, vice chairman of Deloitte and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution leader, said in an emailed statement. "Retailers that demonstrate their resiliency during this time will appeal to shoppers and be better positioned to capitalize on growing consumer sentiment."