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Back to School: How Mobile Shoppers Are Preparing for In-person Learning

Posted Aug 11, 2021

2020 ushered in a very different kind of school year for students across the United States. Both students and parents had to adjust to life with school being conducted at home. This year most students will be returning to in-person school in some capacity, which could affect how they shop and what they shop for. To better understand the upcoming school year, AdColony conducted its annual Back to School Shopping Survey.

The third edition of the Back to School Shopping Survey provides insights on consumer behavior pertaining to back-to-school shopping, online shopping preferences, and mask requirements at schools.

Let’s dive into the survey’s highlights, and be sure to scroll down and download the infographic and full report!

Highlights of the Study

  • Students are prepping for in-person school with many returning for the first time this year.   — A majority of students (79%) will be doing some form of in-person school this year with most of them (51%) going in-person full time. The share of in-person schoolers has gone up 32% since last year’s edition of the survey. The U.S. is no longer in lockdown which allows for in-person learning but changes could be made depending on vaccination and case rates in the upcoming months.
  • Most schools will still require masks to be worn. — Although most students will return to school this fall, they will still be likely wearing masks. 66% of respondents said the students in their household will be required to wear masks at school. When looking at it by region, respondents from the West were the most likely (74%) to have that requirement while the respondents in the South were the least likely (59%).
  • In-store shopping makes a return as well. — Despite the uptick in online shopping last year, many back to school shoppers still prefer to shop in-person. The percentage of shoppers who prefer in-store has increased 8% since the 2020 survey. That makes in-store shopping just as popular as ordering online and having it delivered to the home. Only 14% of shoppers prefer online ordering and curbside delivery.
  • PPE and sanitation items are still on many students’ supply lists.  — 72% of respondents will be buying clothes for the school year, up 8% from last year. Most students have spent more than a year attending a school year and have either outgrown their clothes or are just looking to freshen up their wardrobe. 41% of shoppers plan to buy PPE and sanitation items which is down 15% from last year but still a significant share. 
  • Smartphone is still the preferred device to do back to school shopping. — The majority (65%) of back to school shoppers prefer to do shopping on their smartphones over tablets and computers. Even when shopping in-store, mobile devices are important to consumers. More than half of shoppers research competitor prices and look up product reviews on their mobile devices while shopping in-store.

Don’t forget to click on the infographic to open it full size!

About the Study
The AdColony Back to School Shopping Survey was distributed in the United States and asked consumers about their shopping behaviors and preferences, and how their mobile device plays a role in the buying process, and how their school year plans have changed due to COVID-19. The survey contained 16 questions and garnered over 200 responses, with participants ranging from 18 years old to over 60.

Respondent Profile
There was a good mix of respondents, with the gender distribution being 54% female and 46% female. A majority of respondents were 30 to 44 years old (33%). The survey was conducted in the United States with responses coming from 40 states.

Join the Conversation
How will you use your mobile device for back to school shopping this year? Tweet your thoughts to @AdColony. For the latest AdColony mobile news and updates, follow @AdColony on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect on Linkedin.

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