Back to School Shopping Disrupted by COVID-19

August 14, 2020

With back to school looming—or not looming as the case may be—this week we decided to ask parents with children entering K-12th grade this year about their predicted shopping behavior and their concerns. This is latest wave of our ongoing study with AMC Global undefined designed to help clients and industry leaders navigate quickly changing consumer behavior during the pandemic.


We found that if school is virtual/online, parents predict decreased spending in traditional back-to-school product categories like lunch boxes, backpacks and clothing—yet they predict spending more on items critical to home learning such as furniture, computer equipment and electronics. You can see a full representation of the back-to-school shopping data here or click on the callout below.


We also discovered that parental concerns about the upcoming school year include their child being exposed to the virus, coupled with not getting an adequate education, with the majority of respondents reporting feelings of anxiety and worry. You can see a full representation of the parental emotional data here or click on the callout below.

Key findings for the week of August 10:

  • Fifty-one percent of respondents predict that they will spend less in 2020 on back to school compared to 2019, with 72% predicting lower spend on lunch boxes, 70% predicting lower spend on backpacks and school clothes.
  • Parents report their top concerns this school year are their child being exposed to COVID-19 (41%), and their child not getting an adequate education (40%).
  • Parents report feeling anxious and worried (54%) about school this year, with 11% reporting feelings of confusion, and 10% reporting being sad and being scared.

A complete representation of the back-to-school shopping data can be found here. And complete data representation of parental concerns about the school year can be found here. New results and findings will be released on August 27.


Back to school disruption is a big change in the marketplace! Are you ready for what this new normal looks like in the coming months? Reach out to us to discover how to stay on top of consumer trends, perceptions and behavior.

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