Discounts are Driving 2023 Back-to-School Shopping

The retail back-to-school season is rolling out amidst inflation fears and rising prices, making shoppers more discount-conscious. On the other hand, as of June 2023, 25% of back-to-school shoppers had already started on their back-to-school shopping list – up 17% from five years ago, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Some researchers have suggested this trend is motivated by parents eager to finally send their kids to in-person schooling after experiencing a hiatus during the pandemic. However, dollar-stretching seems to be the norm, and bargain hunters abound.

The May 2023 JLL Back-to-School Shopping Report revealed that parents are expecting to expand their back-to-school budgets this year but are definitely seeking deals.

A high percentage of back-to-school shoppers are…

  • Doing more comparative shopping online
  • Shopping for sales more often
  • Buying more store brands and generic products

Current stats bear this out, courtesy of KPMG’s 2023 Consumer Pulse Back to School Survey :


are concerned about inflation.


are looking for early discounts.


are looking for cheaper brands.


of shopping will be in store.

Other interesting results from JLL’s survey:

  • Walmart, Target, and Amazon are the top three retailers for back-to-school shoppers
  • Parents opting for home delivery will increase 21% over 2020
  • 1% of parents plan to visit two to three retailers

We have our fingers on the retail pulse of the 2023 retail back-to-school season. Watch these videos for insights from our retail expert, Stephen Wilson.

Back-to-School Sales Will Rise

Despite all the price-consciousness, the NRF predicts consumers will spend 12.5% more this year during the back-to-school shopping season. And of 1,212 parents surveyed by Deloitte this past Spring, 57% said their kids could convince them to splurge on clothing and accessories; 56% said the same about tech items.

So, optimism may prevail. Furthermore, retailers have an opportunity—as they do during most back-to-school seasons—to take advantage of the additional in-store traffic

Matt Kramer, KPMG Consumer and Retail Sector Leader, has said, “Winning customers through great value and experience in tough times can go a long way to building long-term loyalty.”

Promote Brand Value to Everyone During Back-to-School Shopping 2023

Smart retailers will take advantage of the heavier in-store traffic of back-to-school shoppers to ensure all customers recognize value and are engaging positively with brands. Here is some advice from a recent Retail TouchPoints article to make that happen:

Use Personalization Tools

While back-to-school necessities are top of mind with parents and families, realize that moms, dads, kids, and other family members may have their sights on other shopping ideas, too. Developing a deeper understanding of your customers through data analysis can help you personalize the shopping experience for everyone in a household. It helps to know what they haven’t bought yet…their intent to purchase… and their preferred method to receive communications about discounts, deals, and specific products.

Boost Customer Service and Convenience

Invest in frictionless product presentation and buying solutions. Technologies such as AR can help customers visualize what a person’s dorm room will look like, how clothing fits them, and how electronics and large-ticket items work. Even without such technologies, consider simple tools such as AskMe® that employ virtual brand experts who can give customers a deeper dive into product features and benefits and share the information—on the spot, without flagging down a retail associate.

Time Promotions to Coincide With School Start Times

For instance, local elementary, middle, and high schools may start earlier than colleges; and the first day of private schools may differ from local public schools. AI- and machine learning-powered tools provide data to assist in planning appropriate merchandise allocations that coincide with peak buying times.

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Author: Karen Salamone

Author: Karen Salamone

Karen is Head of Marketing for MarketSource. She is a transformational B2B and B2B2C leader with a history of building marketing organizations, content teams, and demand generation centers of excellence from the ground up. She is recognized for delivering meaningful insights and fresh approaches and for earning best-in-class content, design, and multi-media awards.

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