This spring, closures due to COVID-19 forced school districts and families into uncharted territory with virtual learning. As many gear-up for hybrid or fully-remote education again this fall, back-to-school prep is looking quite different than it did pre-pandemic. Perhaps unsurprisingly, back-to-school shopping has changed as well.
On the bright side, 1 in 3 back-to-school shoppers plans to spend less this year than last year, according to a recent FinanceBuzz survey of 1,000 U.S. parents. But parents are buying more tech to prepare for hybrid or virtual learning. Here’s how shopping habits have changed for the 2020-2021 school year — and how you can offset costs.
What can past market crashes teach us about the current one?
Parents plan to buy more tech for virtual learning
The FinanceBuzz survey revealed that 29% of parents plan to spend more on laptops, computers, and tablets compared to last year. Thirty percent intend to purchase a new laptop so they have enough devices to support virtual learning.
Electronics spending is also on the rise. Thirty percent of survey respondents indicate they will be buying headphones for their kids, and 19% report higher spending on electronic accessories overall. Eighteen percent of families will likely buy a new printer this fall, while 28% plan to stock up on printer ink to prepare for the school year.
While 1 in 3 households plan to spend less on back-to-school shopping this fall, the National Retail Foundation (NRF) projects that actual spending for the 2020-2021 school year may increase. They estimate that consumer spending will top $100 billion for the first time. A primary driver? Electronics purchases.
How consumers are spending isn’t the only difference we’re likely to see this year; the pandemic has also impacted where they plan to spend. The NRF estimates that 40% of shoppers will be making more purchases online this year compared to last year. Fifty-nine percent of FinanceBuzz survey respondents indicated they’ll shop for school both online and in-store, and 22% plan to shop online only. Of those who plan to shop online, 67% said they’ll get supplies from Amazon.com.
How to save on back-to-school shopping
If your family expects to spend more on tech and electronics this fall, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are a few ways to save. Cashback credit cards like the Citi Double Cash and the Chase Freedom Unlimited allow you to put some money back in your pocket. Using these cards for back-to-school spending and routine purchases could earn hundreds of dollars in cash back each year.
Cashback apps like Ibotta also offer rewards for both in-store and online purchases. With Ibotta, you earn points that can be converted into gift cards. It works at over 1500 retailers and brands, including Amazon, BestBuy.com, Target, and Walmart. Whether you’re buying a laptop, new headphones, or other essential school supplies, you can get rewarded for your spending.
Another option to help you save on back-to-school? A price comparison tool like WikiBuy. WikiBuy allows you to quickly compare prices across popular retail websites to ensure you’re getting a good deal on your purchases.
The bottom line on back-to-school spending
This school year will come with many challenges for families, including how to find reliable tech items at a great value. But no matter what you plan to purchase and spend this year, there are ways to save. Choosing the right credit card, cashback app, or price comparison app can help offset your costs, especially on big-ticket items, and put some money back in your pocket.