Data reveals cheapest time of year for school shopping

Category: Data & Insights

New data from ecommerce accelerator Pattern reveals that consumers should avoid purchasing back-to-school shopping in August and September, the months leading up to the start of term, to get the best value for their money. 

The insights reveal that August and September are typically the most expensive months for a basket of back-to-school products. If possible, consumers should wait until later in the school year. If 2023 is anything like 2022, the most affordable month of the year for school shopping will be November, when many school products — like pinafores and colouring pencils — are anywhere from 7% to 21% cheaper than the average the rest of the year. 

The good news for organised shoppers that have already purchased the necessary items, is that overall, the price of this basket of goods is not significantly higher than previous years. Analysing the data, a typical basket of school goods bought for students at the beginning of the new school year has risen by 2.46% collectively – which is well below the current inflation rate of 6.8%.  

However, there are several products that consumers will notice a sizeable increase in price from last year. Some of the goods on the list are rapidly outpacing inflation, with some stationery items seeing a rise of over 10%. These include file dividers (27%), rulers (26%), geometry set (21%), scientific calculators (18%), crayons (13%), pencil sharpener (11%), and pens (11%). Clothing items appear to be more inflation resistant, with school dresses, skirts, and pinafores all staying the same price or even seeing a slight decrease. 

The other items which have recorded a decrease in price over the last year are erasers (0.28%), pencil cases (4%), glue sticks (5%), marker pens (5%), sticky tabs (5%), school shoes (6%), colouring pencils (6%), and water bottles (11%). With inflation showing this trend, it should continue and benefit consumers’ spending power. 

We spoke to Neal Fairfield, Director of Consultancy, Europe at Pattern, to learn more about school shopping trends and what the data reveals about the wider ecommerce market.

In this video you will find?

  • 00:00 Pattern sell £1.3 Billion of goods globally – huge data set of marketplace data
  • 02:16 Back to School shopping – when is the best time of year to purchase?
  • 03:39 How to buy at the best prices and how do retailers assist?
  • 04:22 How much do prices vary throughout the year?
  • 05:33 How can retailers retain margins?
  • 07:32 Event inspired shopping occasions but inconsistency across the board
  • 08:46 Tracking patterns across global shopping

A full overview of all back to school products analysed can be found here.


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