Consumer Trends

Majority of Back-to-School Shoppers Plan to Buy Tech

Fifty-nine percent of Americans who have completed or plan to do back-to-school shopping this year expect to buy tech products or tech accessories — an increase of 12 percent over last year, according to research released today from the Consumer Technology Association.

The “Role of Consumer Tech in Back-to-School Shopping” study found that an estimated $18.5 billion will be spent this year on back-to-school tech products and accessories — a 6.2 percent increase over last year.

The top 10 back-to-school tech products consumers plan to buy this year are the following:

  1. Portable memory (71 percent)
  2. Basic calculator (55 percent)
  3. Headphones (52 percent)
  4. Scientific/graphing calculator (51 percent)
  5. Carrying or protective case (48 percent)
  6. Laptop (44 percent)
  7. Software for computer (39 percent)
  8. External hard drive (23 percent)
  9. Tablet (22 percent)
  10. Product subscription service (22 percent)

“Early back-to-school promotions are building interest and momentum for the second-largest shopping event of the year,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research at CTA, in a prepared statement. “Deals on the tech items for back-to-school including 2-in-1 [detachable] laptops, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, tablets and more are creating excitement among consumers. This consumer enthusiasm also bodes well for tech sales across the second half of the year.”

About half of back-to-school shoppers (49 percent) plan to shop at an online retailer, including:

  • Online only retailer’s website (80 percent)
  • Retailer’s website (69 percent)
  • Auction website (35 percent)
  • Manufacturer’s website (30 percent)
  • Free classified ad website (13 percent)

Most back-to-school shopping occurs in the month of August (60 percent, according to CTA), and a large majority of consumers will begin back-to-school shopping either one month before school starts (41 percent) or one to four weeks before school starts (40 percent).

Overall, adoption of the so-called Internet of Things and enthusiasm for emerging tech will drive the U.S. consumer technology industry to $296.6 billion in retail revenues in 2016, according to CTA’s “U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts,” a semi-annual report that forecasts 300-plus product categories, including back-to-school staples such as detachable laptops, tablets, smartphones, headphones, Bluetooth speakers and more.

The “Role of Consumer Tech in Back-to-School Shopping” will be available on CTA’s website.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].