(NBC) – For millions of children in the U.S., back to school shopping is starting soon and is expected to peak in early August.
That’s when more than half of annual school-related spending happens and a new survey from Deloitte forecasts the total spent — nearly $28 billion — will be on par with last year.
It doesn’t mean the consumer isn’t healthy, but rather, that back to school supplies are largely commodity-type items – a pencil is a pencil for the most part – that ups the ante for retailers.
“You have to be smarter about the propositions to the consumer. So one of the questions we always ask, what is important to you in terms of picking either the venue or brand that you’re shopping? We hear over and over its price, its product, its convenience,” said Rod Sides with Doilette.
Nearly 90 percent of shoppers say mass merchants — retailers like Walmart and Target — are the top destination for back to school.
Online retailers, like Amazon, are now the second shopping preference for back to school.
Some retail experts say Amazon’s Prime Day shopping holiday has helped it grab more school-supply share.
“Amazon is taking over, along with Walmart and Target, back to school electronics are an online business, electronics will be the big growth area,” said Jan Kniffen, CEO of J. Rogers Kniffen.
Deloitte says spending on electronics will surge nearly 30 percent with the growth coming from mobile devices. And the smartest shoppers, Deloitte’s survey says, don’t procrastinate.
“Those who wait until the last minute spend a lot more money than those who start in the middle of the peak,” said Sides.
Still, some parents plan on waiting for a better deal on back-to-school supplies or choose to wait until right before the school year begins.