Study: Back-to-School Shopper Trends

A new report summarizes how shopper behaviors are changing due to rising inflation and inventory shortages, highlighting generational differences and trends, including a hunger for affordability and convenience.
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A new study of U.S. consumers from global influencer marketing platform LTK found that affordability and convenience will be key for this year’s back-to-school season as shoppers adjust their behaviors due to rising inflation and inventory shortages. 

Some key takeaways from the report, titled “Back to School and Beyond: Shopping in a Shifting Market,” include:

  • Shoppers are starting early: The back-to-school shopping window is already underway, running from late June through early September this year in hopes of landing deals and avoiding out-of-stocks. Nearly one-third of BTS shoppers plan to shop between late June and early July, but the majority will shop by the end of July.
  • Saving time and money online: More shoppers are turning to online shopping to help save time and money, citing rising gas prices, versus going in stores. Buying online was the second-ranked money-saving strategy for shoppers behind driving less.
  • Gen Z has different priorities: While the top items for the average BTS shopper include shoes, backpacks and core supplies like pencils and notebooks, Gen Z is focused on electronics, beauty/personal care products, women and men’s apparel, and food and beverages more than the general population and Millennials.
  • Turning to influencers for help: BTS shoppers are turning to creators for help finding the best deals and items that are in stock. According to the study, Gen Z trusts creators more than friends/family when it comes to shopping recommendations, again veering away from the general population’s sentiment. Social media sponsored brand content and celebrity posts are also driving purchases.

Additionally, LTK data indicated that an influencer post is driving almost as much traffic in store as it is online. According to the study, 61% of LTK creator posts provide sales and deals alerts, helping shoppers find affordable options.

“Inflation is having a profound impact on shopping behaviors,” said Rodney Mason, head of marketing, brand partnerships at LTK, in a media release. “For retailers to win the largest segment of back-to-school shoppers, Millennials and Gen Z, they must be in the market earlier and promote longer with more emphasis on mobile and online including buy online pick up in store and partnering with creators to drive traffic online and in-store.”

LTK’s reported data is from two surveys conducted in May 2022 — one on BTS shoppers and the other on inflation —among 1,026 and 1,052 participants, respectively, both reflective of the U.S. population with 97% confidence, according to the report. View a full webinar detailing the findings on YouTube here.