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Study Up on 5 Trends for Back to School

It seems like summer just started, but before we know it the kids will be loading up their backpacks and hopping on the bus for their first day of school.

That means it’s time for back-to-school shopping.

Here’s a quick look at a few of this year’s hottest trends.

1. People are shopping earlier, longer and spending more

While two-thirds of us plan to start our back-to-school shopping the same time as last year, 28 percent of shoppers said they planned to start earlier. Although August was the top month for shopping in 2016, 58 percent of consumers started shopping before then.

“The scope of the back-to-school shopping season has expanded due to the endless shopping opportunities, both in-store and online, enabling consumers to spread their spending out as needs arise,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group.

And shoppers are expected to spend 10 percent more this year, about $83.6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

2. Electronics top the list for college

College students and their families plan to spend $12.8 billion on electronics such as computers and calculators this year — more than they plan to spend on clothes, food or dorm furnishings.

Laptops top the shopping list with 61 percent of shoppers saying they plan to buy one. Other popular purchases include tablets, calculators, smartphones and accessories such as mice, flash drives and chargers.

3. Tech is important for K-12, too

Think college students are the only ones going high tech? Guess again.

More and more school districts across the country have started using tech, including Chromebooks and tablets, to enhance the educational experience. And many districts ask students to bring their own devices.

“Schools are changing their classroom experience to include more technology including laptops and tablets,” Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “That is why many parents, specifically Millennials, are spending more during back-to-school season and taking advantage of retailers’ best deals to stretch their budgets.”

Tech isn’t just for the classroom, though. Best Buy now carries a variety of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) toys that help make learning fun.

4. Laptops go anywhere

We know people are looking for laptops. When doing so, it’s all about computers that are more compact and take up less space on your desk and in your backpack. The latest laptops and 2-in-1s are slim and light, making for easy transport.

These new computers also have screens with great resolution (think 4K-UHD) and smaller bezels, creating an edge-to-edge experience that helps everything from making presentations to streaming your favorite television show.

5. Voice assistants are like having your own TA

“OK Google. What time is my next class?”

“Alexa, set an alarm for 7 a.m.”

Voice assistants are one of the hottest, must-have gadgets in the fast-growing smart home category, and they’re perfect for dorm living, too. You can use them to play the perfect tunes (while studying, of course), answer your tricky history study guide questions or control the lights from the comfort of the upper bunk.


For the tech (and money) savvy students, check out our College Student Deals to save big on your back to school shopping.