Back to school shopping

Back-to-college shopping accounts for two-thirds of all back-to-school spending.

School is back in session across Wisconsin now.

One of our marketing data sources, Mintel, has been reporting on the back-to-school shopping season and notes that back-to-college shopping accounts for two-thirds of all spending in this category. Although parents of K-12 students spent roughly $122 per household on back-to-school supplies in 2018, and college students spent only $69 per household, college students also stock up on durable goods, such as microwaves and furniture, as well as notebooks and pencils.

Major nationwide retailers are the primary shopping destinations for all students. Roughly 74 percent of all parents shopped for back-to-school supplies at Walmart, about 56 percent shopped at Target and 34 percent shopped at an office supply store. In comparison, 70 percent of college students shopped at both Walmart and Target, and 44 percent shopped at an office supply store.

How much, in total, did all U.S. consumers spend on back-to-school products in 2018?

A) $71.3 million

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B) $90.3 million

C) $82.8 million

D) $99.7 million

Answer: C. As anyone who has shopped for school supplies knows, pens, notebooks and markers add up quickly. In 2018, U.S. consumers spent roughly $82.8 million.

Source: Smith, Diana. (2019). Office Depot plans robust back-to-school campaign. Mintel Database. Smith, Diana. (2019). Target prepares for back-to-school. Mintel Database.

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— Kristin Runge, UW-Extension; kristin.runge@wisc.edu; Twitter @RungeKristin