Know More About 2021
Back-to-School Shopping

The Numerator Back-to-School Tracker provides weekly insight into back-to-school (BTS) related advertising, promotions, and consumer buying behavior throughout the BTS shopping season. The advertising intel leverages our Back-to-School messaging flag to track ads featuring back-to-school messaging and keywords, while the omnichannel promotional and consumer buying insights track key back-to-school categories.

*This tracker has ended, there will be no further updates in 2021

Back-to-School Shopping

Overall sales of traditional back-to-school supplies were up significantly versus 2020 and inched closer to pre-pandemic levels later in the season. Sales began picking up the second week of July, as we've seen historically in pre-pandemic back-to-school seasons, and Prime Day 2021 also gave a slight boost at the beginning of the season. Core BTS products like coloring supplies, writing & correction supplies, notebooks and folders all saw elevated sales versus 2020's unprecedented back-to-school season.

Back-to-School Promotions

Brands and retailers leaned into promotions this back-to-school season, though promotions softened slightly toward the end of the season. Overall promoted products within Apparel were up versus 2020, while traditional School Supplies & Electronics were down slightly. Web promotions were down slightly versus last year, while weekly ads were down more significantly and email promotions were up. Staples held the top spot for most promoted back-to-school products season-to-date this year and last, followed by Macy's and Target. Best Buy also made the top 5 list each year.


Back-to-School Advertising

After elevated spending earlier in the season, ad spending was down slightly versus last year for advertisements with back-to-school messaging, and was down even more significantly versus 2019. Kohl's had the highest back-to-school ad spend (up from #5 last year), while Walmart held the top spot last year (down to #3 this year). Target and JCPenny also found themselves on the Top 5 ad spenders list in 2021 and 2020.


Looking for custom back-to-school insights for your brand or category?

Reach out to our team to learn more about how your business is performing this back-to-school season. Who are your buyers, where are they shopping, and how are your competitors advertising & promoting their products? Numerator is here to bring you the fastest, most comprehensive insights to get you back-to-business for back-to-school. 

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