Back to School Supplies Students Need to Buy Before It’s Too Late


Updated on 07.15.2019 — Back to school supplies can be fun, stylish, and get students and teachers excited to start a new school year. The season is here, and so are the huge profit opportunities for businesses.

Did you know that in the US, the back to school shopping season is the second-largest seasonal consumer-shopping period of the year?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “The number of students projected to attend American colleges and universities in fall 2018 is 19.9 million, which is higher than the enrollment of 15.3 million students in fall 2000, but lower than the enrollment peak of 21.0 million in fall 2010 (NCES). Total enrollment is expected to increase between fall 2018 and fall 2027 to 20.5 million.”

Not only that, the National Retail Federation estimated that the total spending for K-12 schools and college combined for 2018 was projected to reach $82.8 billion, nearly as high as 2017’s $83.6 billion.

But for 2019, the numbers could reach 2017’s numbers. American families are expected to spend $83.6 billion during the back to school season in August and September.

These expenditures are primarily in apparel and consumer electronics —but electronics are still growing.

And one of the biggest customer segments for back to school is Generation Z.

Generation Z—also known as post-millennials, millennials 2.0 and iGen—consists of the population born in or after 1995. According to the Huffington Post, the individuals of Generation Z make up 25.9% of the US population—the largest percentage—and contribute $44 billion to the American economy. By 2020, they will account for an astounding 1/3 of the US population.

The first generation to be completely digital and mobile since birth, Generation Z wants their lifestyles to be as fast and mobile as their data. After all, technology capabilities are important for the generation that’s grown up with the Internet, mobile devices and instant gratification.

Generation Z is one of the largest customer segments for back to school without a doubt. However, they are not the only ones going back to school. College welcomes people from all walks of life, whether they are Gen Z, millennials or Baby Boomers.

Where Do Students Shop?

Where do these college students, and their families, shop?

A 2018 Deloitte survey explains where students will be shopping for their back to school supplies. “Shopping in-store still prevails, but shoppers are continuing to increase their online spend. Across categories, higher-income shoppers are more likely than lower-income shoppers to visit specialty stores (e.g., department stores, home electronics, specialty apparel). Lower-income shoppers are more likely than higher-income shoppers to visit price-based formats (e.g., mass market, dollar stores).”

That being said, what’s on the parents’ and students’ checklists?

Most colleges and universities have their own lists based on dorm accommodations, and many can be found online.

You can consult many generic lists to be found on the web. Bear in mind that more women than men are enrolling these days—in 2018, an estimated 11 million females and 8.7 million males. So regardless of gender, many college students will choose this time to invest in a new computer or electronic device.

In other words, how can you get students the back to school supplies they need for success this year?

Keeping Up With College Customers’ Checklists

Powerful Learning Devices

Tablets provide great opportunities for accessory sales, and are the ultimate in portable computers. Petra offers a wide variety of tablet stands and mounts, universal cases, styli, cleaning kits, and more.

Dorm Room and Safety Necessities

Dorm room and safety necessities are back to school supplies must-haves. A jolt of morning energy may be necessary to get students to that 9 a.m. psychology class on time. Help make this happen by stocking affordable, easy-to-use coffee makers. And don’t forget the microwave to warm up those breakfast Hot Pockets!

Students living away from home for the first time will need a way to keep drinks and food cold. That’s why compact refrigerators have been a dorm-room staple for decades!

Your customers also want to stay safe and secure at all times. For example, bicycles serve as a reliable mode of transportation between classes, but theft is a very real concern.

Assault remains an unfortunate reality on campus. Students in general and young women, in particular, should take precautions. Products like bike locks and pepper spray  stand the test of time as an effective means of thwarting attacks.

How Petra Can Help

Students have lots of needs to get prepared for the new school year.

But it’s also ideal for finding the products you need for any back to school campaign, including things like audio accessories, data storage and memory, Apple accessories, and more.

This one-stop shop can help you be prepared to pass the back-to-school test. And if you ever need a tutor, don’t forget to contact your sales representative!

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