Back to School 2018 Report: Shopping…

Back to School 2018 Report: Shopping Trends for Elementary, Middle, & High School Families

Back to school shopping was expected to generate over $82 billion in revenues for brands and retailers. Pulling highlights from Hitwise’s Back to School 2018 report, we’ll focus on how Elementary and Middle/High school families searched and shopped, all against the backdrop of the Amazon Prime Day and Last Minute shopping (3 weeks to Prime Day and 3 weeks to September 1st, respectively) periods.

Prime Day has become the 2nd biggest retail day of the year, and marks the unofficial start of the back to school shopping period; analysis around this period also shows a post-Prime/late-summer audience that brands can capture.

Elementary school families – Shopping shifted earlier

Looking at transactions made on the Top 50 retail sites, back to school shopping for families with Elementary School students grew 16% YoY in the pre-Prime Day period (3 weeks leading to July 10 in 2017, July 16 in 2018). Actual Prime Day shopping grew 4% from 2017.As expected, Amazon dominated Prime Day period visits, but one interesting note can be found in the Last Minute period. The retailer saw visits and transactions drop 5% in this time, while both metrics grew for smaller online outlets like Best Buy, Wayfair, and Kohl’s. This shows that while Prime Day belongs to Amazon, other retailers have a big opportunity for a late summer sales push.

Middle/High School families – Faster post-Prime drop compared to Elementary families

Similar to families with younger students, Middle and High School families increased their pre-Prime Day shopping by 12% YoY. Prime Day transactions were up 3%, as well.

Middle/High School families took advantage of Prime Day, but like Elementary families, Amazon-related searches and purchases dropped in the Last Minute period. Smaller retailers like Kohl’s, Wayfair, and even Etsy all saw interest and transactions grow in this period.

Zooming in on Amazon

Kids Backpacks drove summer shopping, seeing a 348% MoM increase from June to July. The second fastest-growing category was Education & Craft Supplies, which rose 63% during these two months, highlighting what shoppers are focused on. Among backpacks, the best-seller was the JanSport Classic Series, rather than a trendy new bag.

Another insight is found by looking at what fell. Purchase volumes for books and clothing dropped in July, yet searches for these products were still of interest for consumers. This shows that other brands can stay competitive with Amazon in these categories.

While Amazon will likely always own the Prime Day shopping period, consumer insights for trends and purchases show that other retailers can capture Prime Day and Last Minute shoppers. Also, while trending products come and go, classics and basics performed well.

Miss the report? See more of the top insights and trends from the full report here.