College students bought back to school items.
David L. Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images
Jade Dedrick spent the final year in her nursery taking college classes on video. She had a short back to school shopping list last fall: a five-compartment notebook, brightly colored pens, and a planner.
The 20-year-old college senior is returning to Howard University this week and her list is much longer. She wants to buy a beanbag, plants, and artwork to decorate her off-campus apartment. She needs cleaning supplies, a vacuum cleaner, and groceries to fill the refrigerator.
She said she hasn’t done all of these purchases – or summed up how much those purchases could cost.
“I’m scared to get to the point,” Dedrick said with a laugh.
For many college students, the coronavirus pandemic means long days in front of the computer or a postponed year without school. This fall, a wave of young people will be moving into dorms and campus apartments – or returning after a year off – in need of the extra-long sheets, shower bags, bulletin boards, and other decorations.
However, some are postponing purchases as they juggle a busy summer schedule and weigh the pandemic uncertainty.
College students and their families expect to spend an average of $ 1,200.32 – an increase of about 13% year over year, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual back-to-school survey. Prosper Insights & Analytics surveyed 7,704 consumers from July 1-8 for the survey. According to the survey, college spending is projected to be $ 71 billion, up from $ 67.7 billion last year.
Most of this increase is due to higher spending on electronics and dormitories, the survey found.
According to a follow-up survey of 8,216 consumers, which the trade group carried out on 2.
Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor to market researcher The NPD Group, said retail sales historically reflected an increase in college spending in June and July. However, he said that after months of cooping up and the finite Covid-19 vaccination, teenagers and their families seem eager to socialize rather than shop.
“You finally have the chance to visit friends and family,” he said. “You finally have the chance to maybe have people. There are all these other needs that may have jumped out up there. “
Also, he added, as colleges and universities continue to monitor the pandemic, some students may want to wait to know the final details that could affect the plans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90% of US states see significant or high transmission of the virus.
Source: Bed Bath & Beyond PR
A great opportunity
Merchants are already trying to take advantage of the opportunity no matter when customers shop.
Kohl’s marketing began with back-to-dorm shopping marketing earlier this summer because returning to college seemed safer this fall, said Greg Revelle, Kohl’s chief marketing officer. It also launched a new tool that allows college students to “build a bed” with throws, pillows, XL double-bed sheets to match dormitory mattresses, and more. It also added desks to its own-brand homeware line, The Big One.
Walmart and Target have also showcased back-to-college merchandise in stores and online, such as furniture, laptops, and housewares like throw pillows and artificial succulents. Target has a university registry. It also partnered with Pinterest to develop a visual search tool for its app that would allow a shopper to take a picture of an item and find a similar item on Target.
Some retailers are also trying to draw attention to new brands or parts of their store. At Walmart, for example, the company is trying to bring younger consumers to its Gap Home brand, and at Kohl’s, pedestrian traffic for dormitory shopping coincides with the opening of Sephora in some of its stores.
Derochowski of the NPD said college students are putting an extra effort into decorating this year – a desire that is reflected in the retailers’ colorful kitchen gadgets and the variety of bed ensembles.
He said retailers have a long-term business reason to woo college shoppers. Much like a wedding registry, he said, brands can connect with consumers and build loyalty at a meaningful moment in their life.
Adi Wineland, a senior at James Madison University, said he is still hesitant with some essential purchases like a meal plan and a parking pass.
The pandemic and the spread of the Delta variant have made it difficult to return to campus as colleges and universities have announced changing requirements for the fall. This week, for example, Stanford University joined a growing list of schools that require students to have weekly Covid tests – regardless of their vaccination status. Other schools have announced vaccination mandates or updated their guidelines on masks.
Adi Wineland, a 21-year-old student at James Madison University, is one of those buyers who hesitated about when to check off items on his back-to-college list. On the one hand, he said that many of his friends made large furniture purchases or signed leases for more expensive apartments because they didn’t have those expenses last year.
At the same time, Wineland said, he felt a sense of insecurity as he saw the rise in Covid-19 cases. He said he bought some items that he would need to return to the classroom: a larger backpack, notebooks, and folders.
However, he said he had postponed some of the larger purchases. For example, he said he wasn’t sure what type of clothing to buy – new classroom outfits or loungewear like t-shirts and shorts – because of the potential for some or all of his classes to switch to virtual learning.
Wineland said he is also pushing for the purchase of a meal plan and campus parking pass, two expenses that may be unnecessary when studying at home. He said he did not want to put any money into these and would not receive a refund.
“I’m more of a wait and see,” he said.
Mark Tritton, CEO of Bed Bath & Beyond, cited the shopping delay for families “enjoying a post-Covid lockdown moment, having fun and getting summer sun”. In an interview with CNBC’s Closing Bell earlier this month, he said market research showed that the majority of customers are not quite finished with their purchases.
He said the retailer expects dormitory purchases to pick up pace in the coming weeks.
“Good things are ahead of us in August and I think well into September,” he said.