The back-to-school selling season kicked off July 5th, and the National Retail Federation reports that combined K-12 and college spending will reach $83.8 billion this year.
With online sales being the big winner!
According to the NRF’s Shop.org:
- Online back-to-school shoppers expect to spend 27% more than all back-to-school shoppers.
- The number of U.S. consumers shopping online for some part of back-to-school has almost doubled in just five years
- This year two in of five back-to-school shoppers will shop online, compared to just one in five as recently as 2007
- Close to a third of online back-to-school shoppers started shopping at the beginning of July and another half will start before the end of July
- The average online back-to-school shopper will spend $874.32
The bottom line? If you’re not yet focused on selling back-to-school related merchandise, the time to capitalize on this selling season is NOW.
To see how back-to-school sales trend, you can use one of my top research tools Google Insights. You can see by the chart below that searches for the keywords “back to school” started trending upwards in July.
The Back to School Selling Season
The back-to-school selling season runs from July through mid-October.
- July is the pre-season
- August and September are in-season
- October is post-season. (Post-season back-to-school shopping takes place after the kids have arrived at school, taken a look at what everyone else has/or is wearing and then head back online to round out their “must have’s”.)
That’s almost 4 months of heavy back-to-school related selling opportunities.
So while you may still be enjoying the summer, your business should be featuring merchandise that’s in-demand by back-to-school shoppers.
Back to School Trends
- Superheroes are back! – From Avengers to Spiderman to Batman the superheroes of this summer’s hottest films bring their super powers to back-to-school sales this year. (NOTE: File this away for the holiday selling season as well!)
- Glitz & Glam – Dressing up school supplies and accessories is big news this year and the perfect way to put some sparkle in back to school sales. Gem-encrusted, glitter, jewel-tone and holographic backpacks, supplies, lunch accessories, clothing and tech are big.
- Go wild! – Zebra, leopard and rainbow animal prints are finding their way on to mousepads, laptop cases, USB sticks and more!
- Lunches ‘gourmet style’ – No need to throw that stale cheese sandwich into a paper bag anymore, lunch boxes and accessory sales are exploding! Stainless steel, BPA free, with color and style galore, the new products to carry your lunch to school (or work) have gone high-tech!
50 In-Demand Products Back-to-School Online Shoppers Are Buying Right Now:
- Laptop cases
- Brightly patterned backpacks
- Rolling backpacks
- Sports bags
- Motorcycle boots
- Ankle boots
- Girls school uniforms
- Boy’ school uniforms
- Locker gear (mirrors, shelves, decor)
- Running shoes
- Gym clothes
- Teacher supplies
- Art supplies
- Eco-friendly lunch boxes
- Eco-friendly hot mugs and thermoses
- Costume jewelry
- Phone covers
- Layered friendship bracelets
- Dorm room bedding
- Water bottles
- Cooking utensils
- Dorm room storage
- Locker chandeliers
- Bedazzled headphones
- Colorful clipboards
- Coffee makers
- Brightly colored denim jeans (especially skinny jeans & boyfriend jeans)
- Broaches (think Blair from Gossip Girl) both new and vintage
- Woven wicker and raffia handbags and totes
- Loungewear (faux pajama look for school)
- Beanie caps
- Flowered headbands
- Nail art (press on nails)
- Musical instruments
- Digital voice recorders
- Cleaning supplies
- Personalized dorm-room decor
- Fall sports gear
- Individual snack packs (food)
- LeapPad Learning Systems
- Skate clothes and accessories (Zumiez is a hot brand)
- For more back-to-school product sourcing ideas take a look at this college back to school list.
- Or Target’s back to school list.
- eBay has also produced an excellent back-to-school hot list this year
- PayPal has even put together their must-have items for back-to-school list
All this back-to-school traffic headed online will impact you if you sell non back-to-school related products as well. Once people are back inside and at the computer shopping for back-to-school supplies, they’ll also catch up on shopping for themselves.
The back-to-school selling season is also the preview season for hot holiday products. In-demand back-to-school products carry over to the holiday selling season, so if you want to know what’s going to sell well this year, just keep an eye on back-to-school sales trends!
How are you capitalize on the back-to-school shopping season?
Tell me below!