Are you ready to return to the classroom? If you’re one of the 35 percent of young people today who don’t like school, then the answer would be a resounding no. Well, whether you like it or not, life is about to go back to normal: kids are going back to school, you’re transitioning from high school to college, and the lazy days of your parents are coming to an end. Yep. That’s right! It’s back-to-school season.
Despite the loathsome nature of the back-to-school season, an annual pilgrimage of young people entering a building, it’s a lucrative time for retailers. In fact, it is expected parents will spend $68 billion this year for back-to-school and college items for their children. Indeed, it’s big business.
See Also: The Pros and Cons of Attending College
This year, the average family with K-12 children will spend $630.36, while families with children in college will dole out on average $899.18. At a time when the cost of living is going up, the labor market is in shambles and investment accounts are depleted, this is a hefty sum. We must consider, however, that this is an investment in your future and your career that will pay dividends.
Aside from the cost, which is the biggest thing for your mom and dad, a new study from the National Retail Federation (NRF) listed a number of trends that will dominate the 2015 back-to-school season. Everything from supplies to uniforms, this year’s back-to-school event will be a unique one.
Here are seven back-to-school shopping trends for the 2015 season:
1. Supplies Are Very Important
Every student needs school supplies, but they are a lot different than they were years ago. It seemed like students just needed a backpack, a notepad, and a pen back in the day. Today, it seems you need smartphones, tablets, computers, and the list goes on.
According to the survey, families will spend $97.74 on standard school supplies like backpacks, notebooks and pens. What’s interesting about this statistic, however, is that it’s the second-highest amount since the Great Recession. Moreover, one-quarter say the U.S. economy won’t affect their shopping habits, which is evident in the fact that a smaller amount of respondents will purchase no-name or store brand products to lower their overall costs.
2. More Kids Are Wearing Uniforms
That’s right. In the upcoming school year, more than one-quarter of parents questioned reported that their children will sport a school uniform this year. This is the biggest number of uniformed children in the report’s history. It also may be a good way to start educating students about how when you enter the workforce, you’ll be expected to wear a uniform of professional attire and not beach wear.
Schools will often send you and your family to a uniform store or, if it’s a basic uniform, they’ll provide you with the minimum. If it’s a simple suit, you can just visit Old Navy, any generic department store, or even Amazon.
3. We're Still Procrastinators
The NRF survey suggests that nearly one-third of U.S. shoppers will wait until the final week or two prior to the start of school. This is up five percent from the previous year. Although back-to-school sales usually start in the middle of July, shoppers have decided to wait until the end of August or beginning of September to proceed with their shopping.
What does this say? Well, we’re very much procrastinators. Or we don’t want to wake up to the reality of life going back to monotony. If you’re a procrastinator, or your parents are, then here are a few tips to get you started on your shopping endeavors:
- If you find a product that is out of stock, then obtain a rain check (if applicable).
- Go online for a large chunk of your shopping list (computers, phones, etc.).
- Spend one entire day with a schedule for your back-to-school shopping.
- Have a list and a budget (check both twice); have an approximate calculation of how much you’ll be spending.
- Research to see if you can get a 10 to 20 percent discount on student pricing.
- Find out how much you have spent in the past to get an idea of the final cost.
This is a great beginner’s guide to independence and adulthood. The reason is because you will have to employ these tricks to your day-to-day living expenses and in your job when you have to balance budgets and ensure the business isn’t overspending.
“By seeing what you spent in the past, you can challenge yourself to find better bargains this year,” said Kim Danger, creator of MommySavers.com, in an interview with Bankrate. “The exact budget will vary from family to family. You just need to spend within your means.”
4. We're Spending More on Dorm Furniture
During the college year, the average family will spend about $126 on dorm (or apartment) furniture. Also, close to one-third (31.3 percent) of college students will either live in a dorm room or other college housing this year. Both statistics are the largest figures in the survey’s multi-year history.
Do you want to cut back on costs? Here are a few tips to consider:
- Only pick furniture that will grow with you for the next four years.
- Try out second-hand furniture stores to lower your cost burden.
- Buy self-assembly furniture as it is usually cheaper.
5. We're Turning to Mobile Shopping
One of the biggest trends of the back-to-school shopping period is the rise of mobile shopping. Mobile commerce, or m-commerce, is very big with parents and kids alike. The study discovered that 31 percent plan to use a smartphone to research products, compare prices and make purchases, while 35% plan to do so on their tablets.
This is unsurprising considering that three-quarters of college students own a mobile device. With that being said, there are many shopping advantages of owning a mobile device. Here are a few tips to incorporate into your back-to-school shopping schedule:
- Take advantage of mobile shopping discounts through store apps.
- Contact your wireless supplier to find out if students can get a cheaper monthly bill.
- Utilize in-store QR codes because they sometimes offer cheaper prices.
6. U.S. Consumers Are Avoiding Shipping
When shopping online, shipping is one of the biggest costs at the time of checkout. It therefore comes as no surprise then when it’s reported that 90 percent of online shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping when they do their back-to-college shopping. However, to avoid the time it takes to ship, close to half of those same shoppers will utilize in-store pickup or ship-to-store services. Indeed, this is certainly a superb strategy for cutting back on shipping costs and making the process more convenient.
7. Students Are Using Free Mobile Apps
There are just so many free mobile apps around. Students aren’t using them just for their prevalence but also because of their assistance. Of course, mobile apps aren’t just for fun and games, but they can be used for time management, scheduling, productivity, and resources. Many students, in both high school and college, plan to take advantage of various free mobile apps this year.
Here are five free mobile apps to help make your school year a little bit easier:
- CliffsNotes Study Guides
- RescueTime (Time management and productivity measurement)
- StudyBlue (Crowdsourced learning tools)
- RefME (Reference list designer)
- myHomework (Digital day planner)
You will quickly realize that mobile apps will be essential to your career, too, with many available to help boost your productivity levels while at the same time enhance your quality of work.
“Sending the kids back to school doesn’t have to be stressful,” according to Dave Ramsey. “If you have a little patience and do a little planning, you won’t bust your budget – and you won’t be out there in the middle of all those parents who waited until the last minute.”
Just reading this article will want to make you roll your eyes. Not only did you read this article, but you’ll also now have to deal with multiple signs of the back-to-school season: evenings arriving earlier, and numerous advertisements on television, online and everywhere else. Oh, the humanity!
Are you going back to school this year? Let us know how you’re coping in the comments section below.