Outlooks—and spending—trend upward as schools reopen

After a tumultuous school year in 2020, families are approaching the 2021 back-to-school season with enthusiasm and renewed confidence. Sales are projected to surpass recent records, and parents are shopping earlier—partly to avoid stock-outs—as they mix more tech in with teachers’ traditional supply lists and do more of their shopping online.

Schools open; wallets follow suit

Confidence and clarity are creating a sense of normalcy to the upcoming school year. As parents look to replenish items, back-to-school spending is projected to rise 16% YoY.

In today’s backpack, tech takes over

Digital learning tools are replacing traditional school supplies, driving tech sales up 37% YoY. Even as schools open, more than half of respondents plan to spend on online resources.

Shopping moves up the calendar

Far more families plan to wrap up shopping by the end of July, in part because they expect lingering COVID-19 disruptions to keep some key items off the shelves.

A tale of diverging formats

For school-related tech products, online retailers are the preferred destination. For traditional back-to-school products, mass merchants still lead while dollar stores gain ground.

Read the 2021 Deloitte
back-to-school survey findings

Read the 2021
Deloitte back-to-school
survey findings

COVID-19’s effects on back-to-school spending can be
summed up in one word—digital—with parents buying
more tech supplies and services, and continuing their
school shopping online.
download the report

Kate Fererra

RWD practice leader
Risk & Financial Advisory


Even if students are fully in the classroom, a lot of them are used to a more digital learning experience. That was one of the biggest changes that we saw this year in the survey, how much digital learning has propelled the technology spending this year.”

Explore the 2021 Deloitte back-to-college findings

See what trends and influences will motivate consumers’ shopping as campus life resumes.