Shoppers wear face masks and sanitize their hands on the sidewalk at Herald Square in New York.

Back-to-school shopping will look a little different this year, with consumers prioritizing safety and hygiene above all else for their children, according to the latest report by Coresight Research.

The weekly report, which provides a detailed analysis on U.S. consumer behavior and sentiment amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, found that a little over four in 10 b-t-s shoppers will collectively buy face masks, hygiene products and personal protective equipment for their children.

“Safety and hygiene are top-of-mind for back-to-school shoppers,” authors of the report said. “Two-fifths of all respondents said they will need to buy back-to-school products this year. Among those shoppers, more than one-third expect to spend less. However, the proportion did not have a clear lead over those who expect to spend the same or more, despite the economic downturn.”

The report also saw a shift in b-t-s dollars from products for in-school learning to products for at-home learning. “Over one-quarter of back-to-school shoppers expect to spend more on at-home learning products than last year, likely benefiting categories such as electronics and home products, while one in five expect to spend less on in-school products, which we expect to hit apparel, including sportswear.”

Coresight Research

Image courtesy of Coresight Research. 

And although e-commerce is still preferred to shopping in-store, the popularity for the online channel has plateaued. “We saw a stable proportion of around one-third of respondents stating that they had made apparel purchases online in the past two weeks. This compares to a little over one in six respondents who had bought apparel in a store over the same period,” the report said.

Other activities outside of shopping have declined over the past two weeks, as some states have re-closed due to upticks in confirmed coronavirus cases. “Looking at other activities that consumers had done in the past two weeks, the proportion of respondents who had gone to food-service locations declined, as restaurants in some states re-closed their dine-in service. Around one-quarter had dined in a restaurant in the past two weeks, and one in eight had gone to a coffee shop,” according to authors of the report, which is very likely only a temporary change in consumer behavior.

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