More U.S. consumers are purchasing prepackaged school supply kits this year than in previous years when the kits are made available to them, according to data from The NPD Group. These kits are traditionally offered via a school’s PTO/PTA organization, notifying parents or guardians of the option to purchase all their children’s school supplies through one site. Recently released data from The NPD Group’s Back-to-School Report shows that approximately one in four (27%) consumers are offered prepackaged school supply kits by the schools their children attend. And among those who have access to the kits, 61% said they have opted to purchase the kit this year, up from 55% last year.
“Consumers who purchase kits are primarily doing so because of the time savings,” says Leen Nsouli, executive director and office supplies industry analyst for The NPD Group. “While convenience certainly plays a role as a purchase motivator, most aversions to purchasing prepackaged kits stem from the desire to involve the student in the selection process as well as kit pricing.”
The majority of consumers still purchase their back-to-school supplies in-store. But consumers are moving more of their purchases online, inclusive of pureplay online retailers, traditional retailers, and those offering the prepackaged kits, according to the data.
Overall, back-to-school season sales are down 3% season-to-date. Driving the decline is a nearly 14% year-over-year deficit in glue sales. As has been the case during many previous back-to-school seasons, pencils, folders, and notebooks comprise the most popular office supplies categories.
“Warmer-than-usual spring and summer months throughout the country caused retailers to run longer summer seasonal promotions, one factor contributing to slower back-to-school sales. Additionally, teachers may have released their school lists later this year, and as a result, school supply list-related categories are tracking behind where they were during the same timeframe in the 2018 back-to-school shopping season,” adds Nsouli. “The latest data is showing positive sales growth in mid-August, and we expect to see more positive results heading into the early part of September.”