Deloitte’s “2019 Back-to-School Shopping” report has revealed that back-to-school spending on electronic gadgets will increase by $800 million in 2019 – up 29% from last year. Spending on computers and hardware, however, is expected to fall by $600 million, or 16%. Overall, back-to-school spending is expected to increase, albeit slightly, from $510 per student in 2018 to $519 per student this year, reaching a total of $27.8 billion.

“For the first time, people are telling us they’re just as likely to use a smartphone to make purchases as a laptop or desktop, which previously held the lead when it was time to click the ‘buy’ button,” Rod Sides, Deloitte’s US retail, wholesale, and distribution leader, said in an interview with financial information website MarketWatch. 

Shopping is expected to peak in late July and early August, with 62% of total spending occurring during the timeframe. Most shoppers will start shopping four to six weeks before school starts, although they will spend less than those who begin shopping earlier in the season.

While a majority of money will be spent on clothing and accessories, with the category taking a $15 billion (54%) share, consumers will spend the highest average amount on electronics and gadgets. The average amount will also increase $41 from last year. Wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch, will see increased purchases.

Technology and gadgets also play a part in consumer spending behavior. Online spending from desktop or laptop computers will continue to decrease in 2019, down 7% from 2018 – which saw an 8% decline from 2017. Spending from mobile devices will increase, with 60% of total shoppers planning to use the technology to purchase back-to-school items. Social media spending continues to decline, down 4% from 2018, with 19% of total shoppers planning to use the platform. 

While mass merchant brick-and-mortar stores are expected to retain their position as the most popular locations for back-to-school spending to occur, online-only sites will see the majority (31%) of electronic gadgets spending, and 25% of computer and hardware purchases.

B2S shoppers planning to use each technology platform

An increased reliance on digital technology in the classroom may also affect back-to-school spending, according to Deloitte. Approximately one-third – 30% – of shoppers may spend less because of digital substitution, the report finds, with 57% of respondents believing their children’s school district requires the use of digital technologies. 

The “Back-to-School” spending report polled 1,200 parents of K-12 school-aged children. All participants had at least one child who will attend a school in the 2019-2020 year. 

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