Mobee Secret Shopper Insights: August Back-to-School Mission

Back-to-school 2021 was an interesting time. For many students, it has been over a year since they returned to the classroom in person. Some students are enrolled in a hybrid model or are still fully remote. And for others, they will remain homeschooled.  

We decided to launch an Anywhere Mission to help understand the state of back-to-school. Here is a breakdown of our August Back-to-School Mission, with 140 results from y’all! 

When You Started Back-to-School Shopping  

Most of you started your shopping for back-to-school supplies in early August, followed up by late July. The next most popular time to shop was early July followed by late August. The smallest number of y’all shop in early September. 

Reasons Why You Started Shopping When You Did 

The next question that we had was why you chose to shop at that time. Here are some of your reasons.  

Early July  

  • Avoiding the back-to-school crowds.  
  • School starts early in the South, so this is a suitable time to start.  
  • The best choices and/or product availability. 
  • You can buy a little at a time and budget and spread out the costs.  

Late July  

  • It is right before the big crowds start back-to-school shopping. 
  • Right before school starts for kids that start in mid-August. 
  • You believe that the price will go up later. 
  • You can get a few items at a time and spread out the costs.  
  • You usually know what you need by then since the school supply list is usually published by this point.  

Early August  

  • Fewer people are shopping at this time.  
  • Kids are growing, but do not want to wait too long to buy them clothes. 
  • There is good inventory selection. 
  • This is when your fixed income comes in.  
  • The tax-free holiday is in August.  
  • There are sales and deals.  
  • This is when it is top of mind. 
  • This is around the time that the school schedules tend to come out. 

Late August  

  • Items are back in stock. 
  • School starts in September.  
  • Still a bit ahead of rush. 
  • This is when you believe the sales are. 
  • You receive a checklist from the school around this time. 
  • You tend to procrastinate or wait until the last minute. 

Early September 

  • Price drops and sales. 
  • You do not get the class list until September. 

How Much Do You Spend or Plan to Spend on Back-To-School Items in 2021? 

Out of the respondents, 55 percent spent or planned to spend $0 to $249.99 on back-to-school items in 2021. A further 35 percent spent or planned to spend $250 to $499.99 on back-to-school items, and 10 percent of you all spent or plan to spend more than $500.  

The State of Back to School  

Is it time for your kids to get back into classrooms full-time? Eighty-five percent of you said yes. Seven percent of you said that it is a remote and hybrid model for your children, and 1 percent said other, which typically meant homeschooling.  

Our next question was if the state of back-to-school matched up with your preferred methods of instruction. 68 percent wanted full-time back to school, while 16 percent of y’all preferred remote and hybrid models; and 1 percent preferred homeschooling.

Overall, more parents wanted remote and hybrid models, and fewer wanted full-time back into the classroom.  

Supplies You Plan to Purchase in 2021 

When it comes to online purchases, clothing and supplies took the lead. Then came headphones, workbooks, and electronic accessories. Twenty-one percent of y’all do not buy back-to-school products online. Lower down the list were laptops, desks/chairs, and printers.  

In-store purchases followed a similar theme. Supplies and clothing took the lead. Then came headphones, electronic accessories, and laptops. After that came desks/chairs and printers. Two percent of y’all do not buy back-to-school products in-store.  

More of you purchase back-to-school products in-store than online. The ability to try things out might be one of the reasons behind all of that.  

Supplies You Purchased in 2020 

To compare the data, we wanted to see how these numbers ranked compared to 2020.  

The first part was comparing online purchases. The first three categories of clothing, supplies, and headphones stayed the same in 2021 vs. 2020.

But one difference was that electronics and workbooks swapped positions. The remaining categories stayed the same. One thing to note is 23 percent of y’all did not buy anything online compared to 21 percent in 2020.  

The next comparison was for in-store purchases in 2021 vs. 2020. The top two categories were once again the same: supplies and clothing. Headphones and workbooks swapped the third and fourth spots in 2021 and 2020. The rest of the categories all stayed the same.  

Seven percent did not buy back-to-school products in-store in 2020, vs. two 2 percent in 2021. One thought we had was that since we were right in the middle of the pandemic, preference went to online shopping. 

Why You Purchase Products Online and In-store 

Some of you preferred to buy products online while some of you liked to buy products in-store.  

The top reasons for purchasing products online were the ease of shopping, followed up by free shipping and promotions. Next was the ability to compare prices, and last was the greater variety of products.  

The top reason for purchasing a product in-store was that y’all find it easier to purchase products in person. After that, you liked to try items before buying. Finally, you have a better overall experience with a purchase.  

Retailers You Purchase Products From

We then wanted to know which retailers you most often purchase products from.  

Leading the way online was Amazon; followed by Walmart. Target came close behind Walmart, but there was a large gap between Target and the next closet one, Best Buy. Last up were Staples and  

For in-store retailers, Walmart, Target, and Dollar Tree led the way. Next was Dollar General, Best Buy, and Family Dollar. 

Overall, you shopped at Walmart and Target the most across in-store and online retail. Amazon led the way online. Eleven percent do not buy back-to-school products online, and 1 percent do not buy back-to-school products in-store.  

Additional Comments 

Lastly, we wanted to ask you about additional comments that you had about the upcoming school year. Your responses were a combination of excitement and nervousness.  

Reasons you are excited and ready to be back in person: 

  • Excited to have kids back with their friends. 
  • Happy to have kids back in school. 
  • Ready for things to return to normal. 
  • You do not want to go back to remote learning. 

Reasons you are nervous: 

  • About going back in person. 
  • About other kids and the teachers not being vaccinated. 
  • About what the kids are being taught. 
  • There are still high COVID cases in the area. 
  • You think it will go back to remote learning. 
  • You are still worried about COVID. 

Reasons you are frustrated: 

  • Not allowing remote learning for children who need it.  
  • Virtual learning was easier for you. 

We appreciate all the work that you do to answer Mobee Anywhere Mission questions. Do not forget that even though the back-to-school rush is over, there will still be one to two more semesters/trimesters to prepare for. The work is never truly finished.  

Bobby the Bee

Bobby the Bee is our honey-loving mascot. He currently holds a degree in making Missions, and making honey from Mobee University.