Home & Office

PCs, desks lead uncertain back-to-school buying season

Parents are flying blind as school districts are changing COVID-19 pandemic plans up to the first day of school, according to NRF survey.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor
Studying with video online lesson at home
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you're a parent wondering what to buy for remote, hybrid, or in-person back-to-school this year, you're not alone. Most parents (66%) haven't received a supplies list, and the only certainty is households are preparing for a heavy dose of remote learning.

According to an updated August survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics, 63% of consumers are expecting at least some school and college classes to take place online this year, up from 55% in early July. The survey ran from Aug. 3 to Aug. 11 and covered 7,659 consumers.

In addition, 76% of respondents plan to make purchases specifically related to online education, up from 72% in July. Thirty-seven percent of respondents were planning to buy a laptop, steady in August and July, and 26% say they will buy accessories such as a mouse or flash drive, up from 21% in July.

Furniture is also a big category, which isn't surprising given Wayfair's results, as 23% plan to buy desks or chairs in August, up from 17% in July.

Simply put, consumers are building home classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Other odds and ends:

  • 54% said they are spending more on electronics and computer equipment.
  • 47% of respondents said they are spending more on clothing.
  • K-12 shoppers have completed 41% of their shopping.
  • College shoppers have completed 50%.  

Back to school buyer's guides

Do you need to set up a home office for yourself or your kid quickly before school starts back up this autumn? Here is a selection of buyer's guides covering everything you could possibly need for the school year. If you still can't find what you're looking for, check out our ZDNet Recommends hub for more guides and even deals on the best products available to buy.

Also: ZDNet Recommends: The best products for every office  

Laptops, tablets, and desktops

Desks, chairs, and home office furniture

Webcams, headphones, and video equipment

Printers, Wi-Fi routers, and accessories galore

More back to school gear

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