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2021 Back-to-School Shopping Season Finds Consumers Eager to Get Back to Normal With Approaching School Year

·3 min read

ICSC’s Back-to-School Survey for 2021 Reveals Planning and Spending Habits Resemble 2019

NEW YORK, July 22, 2021--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Back-to-school shoppers in 2021 are more than ready for a fresh start this fall after schooling at home during the pandemic. Our ICSC Back-to-School Survey reveals similar planning and shopping habits among consumers this year as compared to 2019 as back-to-school shoppers plan to spend an average of $954 on school related items as compared to 2019 ($961) and 2020 ($1,053).

"As states across the country continue to fully reopen, the majority of consumers are returning to their pre-pandemic shopping behaviors," stated Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC. He goes on to say that: "Consumer confidence and spending will be the driving force that helps to reinvigorate the U.S. economy; back-to-school and the upcoming holiday shopping seasons will contribute to elevating profits to the levels we saw prior to the pandemic."

Shoppers that indicated spending more this year on back-to-school purchases say that rise is due to additional COVID-19 supplies that are needed, such as masks, sanitizers and disinfecting cloths (33%); a need to replace wardrobe and/or school supplies or sporting equipment (32%); a change in the number of individuals attending school (27%); the items being more expensive (22%); and a change in job status or income (15%).

Promotions will play a significant role with 86 percent of back-to-shoppers saying sales will influence their shopping. Forty-seven percent mentioned that once they are in a store, promotions influence what they buy; 38 percent plan their back-to-school shopping around specific promotional events and dates such as sales tax holidays and big sales; and 32 percent plan to take advantage of the deals they receive from membership programs or loyalty rewards programs.

This year, shoppers will take advantage of both in-store and online shopping options with 38 percent planning to make more purchases online and 27 percent taking advantage of buying online and picking up their purchases in a store.

"Our back-to-school survey confirms that planning, shopping, and spending habits among adults look much like they did before the pandemic," McGee continued. "Consumer spending will help bolster a reinvigorated economy as we emerge from our stay-at-home lives. Consumer traffic and spending continue to increase as regular activities continue to resume across the country."


The ICSC Back-to-School Survey was conducted online by Engine Insights on behalf of ICSC July 9-11, 2021. The survey represents a demographically representative sample of 1,003 U.S. respondents. Spending numbers are comprised of K-12 and college spending.

About ICSC

A member organization for industry advancement, ICSC promotes and elevates the marketplaces and spaces where people shop, dine, work, play and gather as foundational and vital ingredients of communities and economies. ICSC produces experiences that create connections and catalyze deals; aggressively advocates to shape public policy; develops high-impact marketing and public relations that influence opinion; provides an enduring platform for professional success; and creates forward-thinking content with actionable insights – all of which drive industry innovation and growth. For more information, please visit www.ICSC.com.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210722005104/en/


Keith Hudson
Director, Public Relations
Email: media@icsc.com