Real-Time Insights To A Shopping Season Unlike Any Before

2020 Back-to-School Index

In order to provide retailers and manufacturers with the fastest, most complete view into this unprecedented back-to-school season, Numerator is launching the 2020 Back-to-School (BTS) Index. The Index will provide weekly insight into omnichannel BTS advertising, promotional and purchase data as consumers shift from bricks to clicks to shop for a school year filled with uncertainty.

The Numerator Back-to-School Index tracks advertising, promotional and consumer buying behavior each week vs year ago. The advertising intel tracks ads with back-to-school messaging and keywords, while the promotional and consumer buying insights track three key category groupings:

  • School Supplies including: notebooks, writing supplies, drawing supplies, and more
  • Electronics including: computers & accessories, tablets & eReaders, electronics accessories and more 
  • Apparel including: accessories, footwear, boys & girls apparel and more 

Consumer Purchase Insights for Back to School

Early indications suggest that across categories, back-to-school sales will remain well below 2019 levels, and Prime Day's absence is felt in week 29 sales

  • School supplies have seen months of elevated sales amidst the pandemic as families adjust to at-home living and entertainment, but they are unlikely to see the same dramatic spike in late July as they have in past BTS seasons
  • Electronics are currently trending below year-ago levels, but have the potential to surpass last year's sales as students turn to virtual learning
  • The portion of sales made online is up across categories as families lean more heavily on delivery and click-and-collect, though historically high online electronics sales on Prime Day has shifted the balance in the latest week
Back-to-school product sales 2020

Advertising Intel for Back to School

Ads with back-to-school messaging are on the rise, but the numbers are still very low compared to last year's BTS season.

  • Ads from traditional back-to-school powerhouses like retailers and office supply brands are down roughly 50% versus year ago, but software companies, internet service providers, and and online education tools are filling the gap, some with advertising increases over 200%
  • While the weekly number of BTS ads is going up, the gap between 2020 and 2019 advertising numbers continues to grow, with 2020 trailing by roughly 40%
  • Media mix remains very similar between 2020 and 2019, with over two-thirds of ads coming from TV or online display

Notable changes: We've updated our scope to include a more comprehensive look at the BTS advertising landscape-- the latest data includes any ad mentioning "school," "back-to-school," or "classrooms" across all categories and industries. Prior weeks of data have been re-stated to account for these changes.

Back-to-School Advertising Insights 2020

Promotions Intel for Back to School

Notable changes: Similar to our Advertising Intel, we're tweaking our scope to include an even more comprehensive, representative look at the BTS promotions landscape-- check back next week for updated numbers!

8-6 BTS Promo update

What Consumers are Saying

Early insights into consumer sentiment provide a glance into how different this BTS season will be: 

  • 3 out of 4 households (77%) indicate that their back-to-school shopping experience will be different with 1 in 3 households (30%) indicating they will not bring their children to stores for the normal school supply selection. 
  • 2 of 5 households (41%) plan to primarily shop online and have their supplies delivered. 1 in 4 will use Click & Collect for school supplies creating a partial “school trip” experience. 
  • Households expecting to buy back-to-school supplies dropped from 94% in 2019 to 78% in 2020.
For a more on how consumers are thinking about back-to-school shopping, read the full report >>

Help your brand get its fair share this Back-to-School season

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