Back to school in July? 2 in 5 parents already shopping for supplies

NEW YORK — Two in three teachers miss their classroom during the summer, according to a new survey of 1,000 parents of kids between five and 17 and 1,000 K-12 educators. However, it’s not just teachers, the research suggests 58 percent of parents are looking forward to the 2023-2024 school year, and 66 percent are anticipating it’ll be better than last year.

On average, parents are setting aside $225 for back-to-school shopping, yet half of parents remain concerned about affording the school supplies they would like to buy for their child (53%), citing low prices (61%), excellent customer service (33%), and an expansive product assortment (32%) as their top influences for where to shop. Another five percent of parents anticipate they’ll do all of their back-to-school shopping online only, with 95 percent planning to shop both online and in stores.

Conducted by OnePoll for Office Depot, the survey found that 39 percent of parents planned to start back-to-school shopping for their child before July. Teachers plan to spend about $320 of their own money to set up their classrooms for the 2023-2024 school year, and said their classroom’s priority needs are basic supplies like notebooks and pencils (37%) and organization and storage solutions (23%).

“While it seems like summer break has just started, the reality is that parents and teachers are already looking forward to and planning for the next school year,” says Kevin Moffitt, president of Office Depot, in a statement. “Starting back-to-school shopping earlier means more time to find the right products at the right prices.”

back to school shopping
back to school shopping

The average teacher thinks about the upcoming school year eight times during summer break, with 45 percent sharing that it comes to mind even more often. More than a quarter are still in “education mode” during the summer, saying that part of their break will be dedicated to planning and decorating their classroom for next year (27%) and recertifying their educator credentials (22%). However, teachers are still making the most of their time off by spending time with family and loved ones (60%), relaxing at home (50%), and traveling (38%) this summer.

The survey also examined parents’ and teachers’ thoughts on how this past school year went, finding that seven in 10 of all respondents believe they or their family’s experience was positive overall. Parents said the school year was a success because their child received good grades (46%), learned skills that will help them outside of the classroom (34%), and became more social (30%). Meanwhile, teachers credit the success of the 2022-2023 school year to being able to inspire their students (41%), teach in person (37%), and get creative with their teaching methods (36%).

This year, parents are excited for their children to make new friends (28%) and receive even better grades (27%), while teachers can’t wait to help a new set of students learn and grow (47%) and find new and creative ways to teach material (39%).

“It’s important to support teachers and set them up for success by offering them the creative solutions they need to help their students learn and grow,” Moffitt says.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 1,000 parents of kids 5-17 and 1,000 K-12 teachers was commissioned by Office Depot between May 17 and May 29, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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