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Statistics on back-to-college shopping

Kelsey Gast


Summer is here and now is the time to plan your marketing strategy for the upcoming back-to-college shopping season. With fall semester around the corner, parents and students are making their checklists in preparation for the school year ahead. 

Market spend and industry revenue

Back-to-school shopping is the second largest seasonal spending event for consumers after the winter holiday season. Last year, college shopping drove the majority of spending at about 55.3 billion dollars. According to the survey, back-to-school shoppers plan to spend: 

  • $236.90 on clothing
  • $187.10 on electronics (Computers, calculators, phones, etc.)
  • $138.66 on shoes
  • $122.13 on supplies (Notebooks, pencils, backpacks, etc.)

Back-to-school shopping proves to be an extremely large source of revenue for school supply, electronics, and clothing retailers. 

Back-to-school shopping timeline

Depending on the university, the fall term begins any time between mid- to late August, meaning the shopping season is at its highest peak from mid-July through mid-August. Parents and students begin purchasing well before move-in day, but some shoppers will continue making last minute purchases during and after the college drop off. National Research Foundation gathered percentages for when consumers begin buying in the season and here's what they found:

  • 25% of families start buying at least two months before school starts.
  • 41% of people will wait until three weeks to one month before school starts.
  • 23% of families will begin shopping one to two weeks before the semester. 
  • 5% of shoppers will wait until the week of school actually starts.
  • 6% of families will shop the week after school starts. 

Parent influence on student spending money 

On average, college families plan to spend about $942 during the shopping season with parents providing much of this financial support. Although some students will make independent purchases, studies suggest parents still have a large influence on how students spend their money. In fact, 80% of college students say they learn about how to manage their finances from their parents. 

How to determine college spending money

In addition, certain purchases such as cell phones, are heavily influenced by parents because around 60% of parents pay their student’s monthly phone bill. 

Let us help with your back-to-college marketing strategy

To maximize your return on investment, it's essential to leverage seasonal marketing strategies and develop impactful advertising campaigns driven from consumer buying behavior. This summer will be your largest opportunity to promote your brand to a niche market until the winter holiday season. We are experts on the college parent audience and their commitment to investing financially in every aspect of their student's journey.

Connect with us to see how we can strengthen your marketing efforts for the back-to-college shopping season. We offer advertising assistance in these areas:

  • Email marketing
  • Retargeting ads
  • Newsletter sponsorship
  • Native ads
  • Banner ads
  • Directory listings
  • Online video package

Our 80% renewal rate means that our most successful clients see returns year after year. Learn more about our advertising services here >>

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    Kelsey Gast is the Marketing Communications Associate at CollegiateParent. She attended Appalachian State University, from which she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communication, Advertising.

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