Retail Marketing Back-to-School 2023: 4 Lessons Learned in 2022


While the school year is winding down for most as summer vacation awaits, there’s no vacation for retail marketing. Now is the time to plan your back-to-school strategy. Below are 4 lessons we learned from the 2022 back-to-school season that can help in planning your 2023 strategy.

  1. Back-to-school shopping is a priority.

In 2022, amid record-breaking inflation that outpaced wage growth, more than one-third of consumers (38%) prioritized back-to-school purchases, cutting spending in other areas as needed.1

“Families consider back-to-school and college items as an essential category, and they are taking whatever steps they can, including cutting back on discretionary spending, shopping sales and buying store- or off-brand items, in order to purchase what they need for the upcoming school year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “The back-to-school season is among the most significant shopping events for consumers and retailers alike, second only to the winter holiday season.”1

  1. Consumers expect more for their money and will shop for value.

77% of consumers say they will switch brands if prices are too high or if the item is out of stock, according to the Deloitte survey.2

  1. Shopping starts as early as July but continues into August.

More than half (56%) started shopping by July, but at the same time 88% were awaiting supply lists from schools to be available by the end of the month.3

Consumers are willing to cut spending to prioritize back-to-school purchases, but they are also prioritizing value, switching brands (or retailers) in pursuit of better prices and cost savings.

  1. Promotional coupons, advertising, and digital media influence where consumers decide to shop.

According to consumer research from Prosper Insights & Analytics, back-to-school and college shoppers are influenced by a variety of promotional media when choosing where to shop.

Top Media Influences on Back-to-School Store Selection:

Source: Prosper Insights & Analytics August 2022

Top Media Influences on Back-to-College Store Selection:

Source: Prosper Insights & Analytics August 2022

In an uncertain economy that has seen historic levels of inflation only recently start to stabilize, shoppers will be planning their shopping and seeking value early. Plan your back-to-school strategy now to be prepared. Reach out today to get started!

Sources: NRF | Families Prioritize Back-to-School and College Spending Amidst Rising Inflation 1; Back-to-school challenges marketers as shoppers focus on savings | Marketing Dive2; NRF | Back-to-school trends to know3