Jul 2, 2024 | 3 min read

Parents on Nextdoor are shopping for back-to-school supplies earlier - and spending more [Insights from Nextdoor]

As the summer heat rises, so does the urgency for back-to-school (BTS) shopping among parents. Nextdoor surveyed 2,000 parents of K-12 and college students in the US to shed light on evolving trends, spending habits, and the emotional journey tied to this annual ritual.

BTS shopping produces a mixed bag of emotions

More than three-quarters of parents on Nextdoor are excited for their children to return to the classroom, and nearly 90% see BTS shopping as a bonding opportunity. However, around two-thirds find this endeavor stressful, citing the costs of supplies, crowds, and out-of-stock items as the primary culprits. Parents with multiple children are particularly impacted, being 13% more likely to find the experience unsettling.

To mitigate stress, many parents start their shopping early. Over half will have begun by early July, with a significant number expecting to finish by the month's end.


Parents look to get the most bang for their buck

Starting early offers potential cost-saving opportunities, a fact not lost on the 78% of parents who plan to start shopping earlier this year. By getting a head start, parents can shop around and take advantage of various sales. Prime Day will be a particularly popular time, with 36% of parents planning to capitalize on the deals.

Despite these efforts, cost-saving measures like waiting for sales or buying from second-hand stores are down year-over-year (YoY) by 4% and 17%, respectively. This is underscored by the 69% of parents who expect to spend more this year, citing higher prices (65%), more required items (51%), and the need for "big-ticket" items (49%). To offset these costs, nearly two-thirds of parents will list items on Nextdoor's For Sale & Free.

Apparel consumes a majority of shopper’s budgets

On average, parents on Nextdoor expect to spend $984 on back-to-school related items, with the majority of that total dedicated to clothing and shoes.


Parents will get new clothing for their children not only to replace outgrown items (65%), but also to improve their children’s confidence (60%) and as a way to get them excited about returning to school (57%). Perhaps parents are heeding the advice of NFL Hall of Famer Deon Sanders, who once said, “If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you play good.”

Children have the greatest influence on purchase decisions

In order to ensure new clothing and other BTS items produce this aforementioned excitement, parents will seek input from their children. Unsurprisingly, parents attribute their children as having the greatest influence on their purchase decisions. Though only slightly more parents do the shopping with their children rather than for them (49% vs 48%), as children get older, they appear to get much more involved.


The next leading impact on parents’ shopping habits are the lists provided by the children’s school. These recommendations are considered to have a strong influence over 68% of parents, just marginally less than the voice of their children (70%). Parents on Nextdoor are much more likely (+20%) to be influenced by ads on social media, underscoring the importance of brands reaching these consumers - particularly those of young children who are more inclined to go shopping without their children.

Parents show preference to online shopping

Though most parents on Nextdoor will shop online and in-store evenly (44%), 32% will do the bulk, if not all, of their shopping online - a considerably higher proportion (+45%) than those who will do the same in-store.

As noted previously, crowds are responsible for a sizable portion of BTS stress, so shopping online is an attractive option. It also allows parents to seek the best prices and shop more easily from multiple retailers. That said, ⅔ of parents on Nextdoor will aim to purchase everything needed in one checkout.

Retailers that communicate their one-stop-shop capabilities will do well this BTS season, particularly with elementary and middle school parents.


As BTS shopping kicks into high gear, understanding these trends helps retailers and brands cater to the nuanced needs of parents. Whether it's through early sales, leveraging social media influence, or offering comprehensive online shopping experiences, there's ample opportunity to support families during this crucial time of year.

Interested in learning how your brand can do that on Nextdoor? Please reach out and schedule time with the Nextdoor team here.

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Author image Nextdoor Editorial Team At Nextdoor, we love local. The Nextdoor Editorial Team is dedicated to telling stories of local businesses, providing product education, and sharing marketing best practices to help businesses grow.