COVID-19 and the Impact on Back to School Shopping

Five months into the COVID-19 pandemic and retail continues to adapt and change. Back to school shopping has produced a new challenge for the industry as brick-and-mortar retailers across the U.S. remain closed. Parents are still unsure about where, when, and how their kids will be going to school, and entire school districts don’t know when normal operations will resume.

During this strange shopping season, Bizrate Insights surveyed shoppers to ask how the pandemic has shaped their back to school shopping plans.

Consumers Might Not Shop at All

An overwhelming majority of shoppers (78%) said that the pandemic will affect their shopping in some way.

Bar chartSource: Bizrate Insights Flash Survey, August 2020.

When asked if they planned to do any back-to-school shopping this year, 76% of respondents stated they would not.

Bar chartSource: Bizrate Insights Flash Survey, August 2020.

A small fraction of survey respondents reported no changes in their shopping plans while 11% said they weren’t sure how the pandemic would affect their back to school shopping.

This Year, a Deal or Discount May Be Key to Attracting Customers

For those who do plan to shop for the back to school season many will adjust their shopping behaviors. Over half of respondents (56%) said they would shop online for their school items, and 34% said they would actively seek deals and discounts to help them make their purchases. Likewise, 27% of shoppers said that they will need to spend more on online/remote learning services to meet the changes in student needs.

Pie chartSource: Bizrate Insights Flash Survey, August 2020.

Younger Shoppers Plan To Spend Less and Stay on Budget

Respondents between the ages of 18 to 29 reported a stronger impact from the pandemic with 86% saying COVID-19 would affect their back to school shopping. Of those same respondents, 43% said they had a budget of $100 or less and 51% said they plan to stick to their budgets.

With generally less disposable income, younger demographics are adjusting to the pressure of the back to school shopping by restricting their budgets, seeking out deals and discounts, and shopping online.


COVID-19 will have a significant impact on this year’s back to school shopping season. Most of those surveyed reported that the pandemic had changed their plans in some way, and many shoppers (especially younger demographics) are looking for as many deals and discounts as they can.

From holiday shopping to the overall changes in retail environments, Bizrate Insights has kept a pulse on industry trends throughout the pandemic. Want to hear directly from your customers and gather valuable data for your business? Book a demo below to learn more about our survey solutions.