Back-to-school shopping is down, families say

ebates-logoBack-to-school shopping is in full swing, and both parents and teens are busy tackling long shopping lists. According to a new survey conducted on behalf of Ebates, a leader and pioneer in cash back shopping and subsidiary of the global internet services company Rakuten, many parents (42 percent) plan to spend between $100 and $300 — significantly less than the $250-$500 they planned to spend last year. The survey also discovered that a majority of American parents are likely to take advantage of back-to-school promotions (80 percent).

The national survey, conducted online by Propeller Insights on behalf of Ebates in June 2017, was fielded among 1,001 adults and 500 teens.

Parents and teens were aligned in their thoughts on the essentials, with both saying that clothing and shoes were at the top of their shopping lists (73 percent for parents and 60 percent for teens). This is followed by pens/pencils/notebooks (19 percent for parents and 33 percent for teens) and a backpack or school bag (7 percent for parents and 6 percent for teens).

When it comes to the fun back-to-school items, accessories win for both parents (58 percent) and teens (61 percent). The top non-essential items for both are headphones, laptop, sporting goods, cell phone and iPad or other tablet.

The majority of teens (66 percent) also plan to get a haircut over the summer, while college students plan to buy microwaves (24 percent), mini fridges (22 percent), futons (15 percent) and hot plates (11 percent).

More than two-thirds (36 percent) of American parents say that they typically end up purchasing all of their back-to-school supplies from three stores, and 30 percent will buy from just two.

While parents and teens generally agree on what they plan to buy this year, they differ on the items they dread purchasing. Teens don’t like shopping for pens and pencils (33 percent), while parents dread buying clothes and shoes (50 percent).

Meanwhile, students are increasingly relying on social media to find the hottest trends. In fact, 45 percent of younger teens are searching on Instagram, while 53 percent of college students are leaning on Facebook for the go-to looks and must-have items.

When it comes to which social platforms teens are using most frequently, Facebook is favored more among college students than among teens:


  • Instagram – 68%
  • Snapchat – 67%
  • Facebook – 39%

College students:

  • Instagram – 71%
  • Snapchat – 67%
  • Facebook – 66%

From now until Aug. 14, back-to-school shoppers can receive up to double cash back on select retailers via Ebates. For more details on specific retailers participating in the special offer, visit Shoppers can also download the free app at Google Play and the AppStore.