Meijer Reveals Back-to-School Trends

Back-to-school shopping is underway for retailers, and families are expected to spend more than ever as schools reopen for in-person learning.
Back-to-school shopping

As families prepare to spend more on electronics and other essential school supplies, Meijer has outlined some of the top trends for the season. Self expression is an important factor this year, with students wanting to return to school in style, the Midwest retailer noted.

Meijer, which has stocked more than 1,800 back-to-school items, expects families with kids in elementary school to spend an average of $849.50 on school items this year. That’s right on par with estimates from the National Retail Federation, which expects the same families to spend an average of $849.90 this year. 

Gel pens, markers, pencils, paper, notebooks and other items that can be bought in bulk to stock at home and in classrooms are top of lists for parents and teachers, according to Meijer. Plus, there’s likely to be high demand for school supplies that were skipped last year. 

“Families really want to be prepared for returning to classes, so the enthusiasm for in-person learning is really evident as they shop in our stores,” said May Graceffa, Director of Back-to-School Merchandising for Meijer. “We’re seeing parents collaborating with students to plan ‘their’ look and choose the supplies that will best match their personalities while sitting in class and walking through school halls.”

After school disruptions last year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of kids are looking to upgrade their backpacks this year as they return to in-person classes. Having more room for electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and other accessories are important considerations when upgrading bags. Parents are also interested in safety features on backpacks that can protect expensive items.

Another hot trend of the back-to-school season are sporty brands, with students looking for Adidas, Champion and Under Armour name brands. High Sierra and Columbia backpacks are also popular this year. Among supplies, students are gravitating toward specific colors for notebooks, folders and pencil holders, with mints, pinks, blues and rose-golds being the most popular colors. Geometric patterns on folders are also trending, Meijer noted. The top themes across school supplies include gaming, sharks, dinosaurs, marble, tie-dye, space, rainbows and animals.

However, other students are looking to break trends and stereotypes with gender neutral options, with primary colors and pattern-free supplies. Positive affirmations such as Make Today Amazing,” or “Kindness is Cool” and “Be Strong, Be Brave, Be You” are another popular branding option on supplies this year. 

Beyond colors, patterns and name brands, students and parents will still be picking up essential pandemic items like masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. As the Delta COVID-19 variant continues to spread, schools will have to take precautions to reduce the risks, just like retailers. 

“Ultimately, parents want their students to have the best first day ever,” Graceffa said. “Nothing beats catching up with classmates and getting to take part in all of the extracurricular activities missed as they adapted to blended learning last year, so we’re hoping that the trend of parents and students teaming up on a return to class is going to be a huge success for everyone.”