Back to School Shopping

It’s the end of August, which means for many, it’s time for school to be back in session. We polled American families and 74% reported that their children will be attending classes fully in person this fall. After a year plus of being home, 84% of parents report they will be doing some sort of back to school shopping. 

In years past, 64% of households said they reused much of their school supplies. But in 2021, almost the same percentage said they plan to buy more back-to-school-related items this year than they had pre-pandemic. This may be because many supplies didn’t get replenished during the pandemic and thus the need is greater this fall.


Source: PureSpectrum Insights Platform

The most common items families are looking for probably aren’t surprising; clothing, shoes, backpacks, writing implements, and notebooks/binders. But this year, there are new items on their school lists including masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and even personal cleaning supplies. Only 5% of parents polled said they don’t plan to buy any COVID-19 protective measures for their children this fall. Filtering results on our Insights Platform show that even parents whose children are staying fully remote still plan to buy many of the same items. 

Source: PureSpectrum Insights Platform

While many families have gotten comfortable shopping online, 54% of parents say they still plan to shop in-store this fall. Amazon was recently reported to be set to overtake Walmart as the largest retailer in the US, but our poll shows that parents are still mildly favoring the neighborhood retail giant. 70% of families plan to do some of their back to school shopping at Walmart, while Amazon is tied with Target as a retail destination for slightly over 60%.  No matter where parents plan to shop, the most important factor when choosing a retailer is price/discounts. 

No matter where they are in the US, 85% of parents are feeling happy to send their children back to school. Of those whose children are not scheduled to be back full time, almost 60% would like them to be. And by the responses measured in our survey, it seems that fall sales should also reflect this enthusiasm. 

Want to learn more about running your own survey? See how easy it is on our Insights Platform.

Interested in getting access to this data?  Email us at


PureSpectrum interviewed 167 online respondents on August 12th, 2021 using the PureSpectrum Insights Platform. The platform is integrated with the PureSpectrum Marketplace which combines proprietary measurement tools and third-party data validation to quickly collect high-quality insights. The study fielded in less than 2 hours and targeted parents within the United States and consisted of a general population audience of 18+ years old. This study uses a 95% confidence level to examine the data.