Meijer has surveyed parents and teachers to find out what the back-to-school shopping season will look like, and according to these 1,200 consumers, this year is bound to be different.
The new normal finds parents more concerned about safety than finding the best deal, with nine out of 10 saying safety is their deciding factor for in-store shopping. Not everyone, however, is going to even buy food in a brick-and-mortar location. The survey indicated a 550% increase in the use of home delivery or curbside pickup services as part of their back-to-school shopping compared to 2019.
"While price is always an important factor in shopping decisions, there are definitely 'new normals' when it comes to how customers are checking items off their lists for the upcoming school year," said Brandon Pasch, director of back-to-school Merchandising for Meijer. "We are seeing more customers mention the efforts we make regarding safety as they focus on the items most necessary as potential learning plans are determined by schools."
More than 80% of parents and teachers expect the new normal for their students to be a mixture of virtual and in-person learning, so they say they plan to adjust, refill and update their supplies multiple times in the coming months.
Other changes in behavior according to the survey include:
- 20% of parents and teachers started their shopping earlier than last year.
- More than a third of parents and teachers surveyed are still waiting for learning plans from schools and are waiting to start their shopping.
- Parents are not bringing kids to the store for shopping for supplies.
- Home delivery and pickup are on the rise.
- Personal protection equipment (masks, sanitizer and wipes) are now the No. 1 back-to-school essential.
- 30% percent of teachers plan to purchase electronic items to help with virtual learning set up in their homes.
- White boards and markers are replacing blackboards and chalk as virtual learning takes center stage.
- Shared resources are a thing of the past.
"We anticipate the back-to-school shopping season extending well beyond normal as parents and teachers adjust to new developments in their learning plans," Pasch said. "As a retailer, we are focused on doing our part to offer selection and shopping solutions to help them through these next few weeks and beyond."