Back-to-School Shopping Habits

While many students, parents, and teachers are still uncertain of their school’s plans for instruction in the fall, the trajectory of the back-to-school shopping season remains top of mind for advertisers and consumers alike. As students adjust to remote learning environments, the tools and resources they need to support their education are changing – along with their shopping habits. 

After gathering sentiment around preferences for remote versus in-person instruction, this week we polled our audience to discover if and how they plan to do their back-to-school shopping this year. We also explore which product consumers plan to buy more of and whether perks like discounts, curbside pick-up, and home delivery factor into their purchase decisions. 

July 28, 2020

Do you expect to go back-to-school shopping this year if schools continue remote instruction?


of Americans who have someone in their household headed to school in the fall will still go back-to-school shopping if remote instruction continues.

70% of Americans with someone going back to school in the fall plan to do back to school shopping if school is remote

Are you worried about spending money on back-to-school supplies this year?

While 70% of Americans are planning to go back-to-school shopping, 59% of those preparing for school in the fall are worried about spending money on back-to-school supplies.

59% of respondents are worried about spending money on back to school supplies this year

How do you plan to do your back-to-school shopping this year?

40% of back-to-school shoppers will shop both in-store and online, while 32% will shop strictly online.

Pie chart breaking down how Americans plan to do their back to school shopping

Compared to other age groups, millennial parents are most likely to make all back-to-school purchases online. Gen Zers are least likely to shop exclusively in-store, instead preferring a combination of both in-store and online shopping.

What is most important to you when shopping for back-to-school?

In terms of importance, discounts outweigh conveniences like curbside pick-up and home delivery for most Americans.

Circle graph comparing what is most important when shopping for back-to-school.

Gen Zers and millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to value conveniences like curbside pick-up and home delivery.

Bar graph comparing what each generation says is most important while back-to-school shopping

What do you expect to buy more of this back-to-school season?

(select all that apply)

New clothes are at the top of the list for back-to-school shoppers followed by writing supplies (26%) and tech supplies and accessories (25%).

33% of respondents expect to by more clothes this back-to-school season
26% of respondents expect to by more paper and writing supplies this back-to-school season
25% of respondents expect to by more tech devices & accessories this back-to-school season
15% of respondents expect to by more workspace supplies this back-to-school season

See what other insights we've gathered to date

Back-to-School Sentiment

See Results


How is this data collected?

‘Fluent Pulse’ reflects a daily online survey collected across Fluent’s portfolio of owned & operated websites.

Who is the audience?

Fluent attracts a massive audience across its network of owned media properties. While all segments of the US population are represented, the below are our most prevalent demographic skews:

Demographic Attribute Over Penetrated Among
Age Median: 38

61% between the age of 18 & 44

Gender 50/50 Male/Female
Education High School Degree or Some College
Homeownership 61% Renters
Households with Children 42% of Audience

How many people were surveyed?

On average, 150,000 – 175,000 consumers respond daily.

Is the data weighted?

No, but representative of the overall Fluent Audience.

How do you protect consumers data privacy?

All responses related to this survey are anonymized; only survey responses will be disclosed. At no point will consumer’s personal information will ever be disclosed.

What was your methodology?

Data has been collected from U.S. adults on a daily or weekly basis, dependent upon topic, since March 10, 2020. All data is sourced from Fluent’s portfolio of owned and operated media properties. Results are specific to the Fluent audience and not reflective of the general U.S. population.

The data presented on this site does not reflect the official opinion, policy or position of Fluent, Inc. This research is only meant to inform and illustrate, as an example, the rich data assets Fluent can derive insights from to drive in-market strategies.